The facts of lice

Like everywhere else, there are head lice in Simcoe County. The truth is people have been dealing with head lice for hundreds of years.  We know that it can be upsetting when you find out your child or a student in their class has head lice. That’s why, today, I’m dispelling some of the common myths and answering frequently asked questions to give you the facts of lice!

MYTH vs FACT

MYTH #1: Head lice spread disease and are a hazard to your health.
FACT: While head lice cannot spread disease, they can leave you feeling angry, frustrated, embarrassed and itchy! Head lice are not a hazard to your health.

MYTH #2: People who get headlice are ‘dirty’.
FACT: Getting head lice has nothing to do with being clean. Anyone can get head lice but kids tend to get them more often because they can have head-to-head contact with other children during school and play. The best way to keep head lice in check is to work together to prevent the spread.

MYTH #3: There’s nothing you can do to prevent the spread of lice.
FACT: You can help prevent the spread of lice by teaching your child not to share personal things like hair brushes, combs and hats. It’s also a good idea to set a schedule to check your child’s head regularly.

ANSWERING SOME OF YOUR COMMON QUESTIONS

How will I know if it’s lice?
When checking your child’s head, sit where you have bright light and look carefully for nits (shells containing eggs) and live lice in the hair, behind the ears, and around the neck and hairline. Nits looks like half the size of the head of a pin, shaped like a teardrop and stick to the hair so you can’t blow, flick, or easily slide them off. Lice are about the size of a sesame seed and are very hard to see because they can crawl and hide but they cannot hop or fly. Don’t forget to get your own head checked too!

What do I do if I find nits or live lice?
If you find nits or live head lice, you’ll need to use a head lice treatment to kill them. Make sure to follow the directions, then do a second treatment 7-10 days later to help stop the lice from returning. Head lice are not likely to live in clothing, furniture or bed linen but it’s a good idea to wash bed linen and hats in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer just in case. Storing these items in a plastic bag for 10-14 days will also kill head lice

Can my child attend school if they have head lice?
If your child gets head lice, let your school know. The Simcoe County District School Board asks parents to keep their child home from school until after the first head lice treatment has been completed and there are no live lice on the head.

Anything else I should know?
In addition to letting the school know, it’s also a good idea to tell anyone your child has had contact with so that they can have their head checked too – think of babysitters, grandparents, sports teams or clubs, and friends’ parents. And remember only people get head lice, which is good news for pets!

If you’d like  more information, including details for how to check for and treat lice, visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.imm2

~ Stephanie Jones RN
Follow me on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

 

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