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September is Head Lice Prevention Month

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School KidsThe medical term is “pediculosis capitis,” but the note you receive from the school nurse says “head lice,” two words parents of school-age children dread.

According to The National Pediculosis Association, Inc., head lice infestation continues to be one of the most frequently-occuring communicable problems among children. Outbreaks are possible whenever and wherever children gather.

So, just what are head lice?  A head louse (the singular form of “lice”) is a small insect about the size of a sesame seed.  It lives on the scalp, where it feeds on blood.  During her 30-day lifespan, a female louse can lay more than 100 eggs, called “nits,” that look like tiny teardrops and hatch within 7 to 10 days.  Each nit attaches so firmly to a shaft of hair that it can’t be removed by brushing or shampooing.

If you receive the dreaded note informing you that your child has head lice:

  • Don’t feel offended or ashamed.  Your child’s infestation has nothing to do with lack of cleanliness, and no one is accusing your child or your family of practicing poor hygiene. People become infested because they have been in close contact with someone who has head lice or have used an infested object, such as a hat, coat, scarf, hair brush or comb.
  • Don’t panic.  Instead, take prompt action. The notice you received will include instructions for treating your child’s hair and scalp, as well ways to treat your home environment to prevent the infestation from spreading to other family members.

Need more information?  Check out the Springfield Public Schools’ website: http://springfieldpublicschoolsmo.org/healthsvcs/headlice.htm and http://www.headlice.org

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