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Lice Logistics: Early Detection Is Key

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

There are many realities that parents have to deal with now that it's back to school and back to business as usual. And, among the many concerns parents have, one of the biggest is facing the possibility that their little one may come home with head lice.

That's right, head lice is common among school kids and it can strike any kid at any time.

These parasitic insects infest the head, eyebrows and eyelashes causing a tickling sensation along the scalp. And, according to health experts, about 6 to 12 million kids ages 3 to 11 in the United States alone get infested each year regardless of socioeconomic factors or hygiene.

So, what can parents do? Well, for starters, they can be diligent and get familiar with what to look for and how to detect the infestation as soon as possible.

Lice spread via close contact and they can jump, fly or crawl from person to person especially when they are touching. And, according to experts most school children, especially little ones can tend to be pretty up close and intimate. From playing together, to sharing, whispering in each other's ears, taking naps next to each other, sharing lockers and combs or hairbrushes, it all ups the odds of infestation.

Today, we have a variety of ways to prevent lice from spreading but preventing it translates into making sure parents do what they can to make sure their child doesn't bring the little buggers home and that includes:

* Teaching children about respecting and keeping an adequate personal space.

* Keeping hair shorter, since long hair seems to be more prone to infestation.

* Regularly checking your child for lice or lice eggs, known as nits and tackling the problem as soon as possible.

Experts suggest parents combing their children's hair a few time a week or a bath time using a special tine-toothed comb designed to sweep the lice and nits out of the hair.

If however your child does get lice, it's important to treat it as quickly and aggressively as possible. Most professionals suggest over-the-counter or prescription treatments that contain mild pesticides that tend to be generally safe for humans, except for infants. Still others recommend that parents deal with the issue BEFORE they have to resort to such "harsh" treatments. They stress brushing the lice and nits out of an infested child's hairs that can be a long and tedious process that needs to be repeated daily.

Another chemical-free option is the LouseBuster, a device that used forced hot air at high temperatures into hair, dehydrating lice and nits.

An oral systemic medication known as invermectin is also available for treateing more advanced, hard-to-treat cases. However, while this medicine kills lice it does not kill off nits, which means that if eggs remain so can the infestation.

Here are some other important facts to take note of:

* While children are most prone to the infestation, everyone in the family should be checked.

* Repeated treatements are necessary to completely get rid of lice and nits, regardless of the treatment used.

*Make sure to vacuum furniture and run all bedclothes through the dryer to prevent the lice from spreading.

*Remember to keep your cool and act quickly if your child is infected.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Lice Logistics: Early Detection Is Key

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