Scratch that

A common problem that affects children in daycare and school, lice can quickly be spread to whole families, Carolina Surma writes                                                    


Few things strike fear into the hearts of parents like the threat of lice. Just the idea of creepy-crawlies on your kids’ scalp (and soon to be yours) has your stomach in knots. The thought of obsessively washing every piece of fabric in your house and knowing there is a very real possibility of lice re-entering your life even after you’ve picked everyone’s heads several times. When thinking of lice, many think of this as just a school issue, but that is not the case. Lice are contagious, small insects that live in the hair on your head and feed off the blood from your scalp. They cause itching, sores and scabs on the scalp and spread easily making this a common problem that usually affects school-aged children and their whole families. Though head lice may be a nuisance, they are a common problem, and they don’t cause serious illness or carry any diseases nor are they linked with poor hygiene. Still, many parents still feel shy about asking for help.



Here are a few things you should know about lice:


  • While there is no specific season for headlice, the colder months can make this a more common problem as children and families are in close quarters.
  • Lice do not fly, jump or hop and only spread through direct contact. Kids tend to play closely together, and hats are swapped and shared making the spread of lice that much easier.
  • Lice are very common and if you and your loved ones have been exposed to the infestation, make sure you wash any items that touched the head lice with hot water, then dry them in a hot dryer for 15 minutes or store the items in an airtight plastic bag for two weeks.
  • Forget old wives’ tales of smothering lice with mayonnaise, olive oil and Vaseline. There’s no data to show that any of these actually work. Lice can be treated with topical non-prescription insecticides found at any pharmacy and obtained over the counter.