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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
RaeAnn Tucker-Marshall is the public information director of the Henry/Stark Health Departments.
Blog: What you need to know about head lice
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By Henry Health
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Rae-Ann Tucker-Marshall
Henry-Stark Health Department
Aug. 13, 2014 10 a.m.

   It's nearly that time of year again.  When yellow school buses, cross

guards and children carrying book bags abound.  Therefore the Henry and

Stark County Health Departments would like to remind area residents of the

facts pertaining to head lice and how to treat it.

   Head lice are spread most commonly by direct head-to-head (hair-to-hair)

contact. However, much less frequently they are spread by sharing clothing

or belongings onto which lice have crawled or nits attached to shed hairs

may have fallen. The risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen

onto a carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1-2

days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and

usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as

that found close to the scalp.

   The following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control

the spread of head lice:

    * Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other

activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground,

slumber parties, camp).

    *Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms,

hair ribbons, or barrettes.

    *Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes

used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for

5-10 minutes.

     *Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals

that have recently been in contact with an infested person.

     *Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an

infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the

hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and

items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag

and stored for 2 weeks.

    *Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person

sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning

activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may

have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.

   Although head lice are difficult to see, they are easy to recognize.

One sign is a persistent itch of the scalp, often accompanied by infected

scratch marks.  Closer inspection, aided by a hand lens will reveal small

silvery eggs attached to the hair shaft.

   Head lice infestations among children and adults are common.  Lice are

unbearably itchy and highly contagious; they require immediate, thorough

treatment.  Alas, there are no non-toxic products for killing lice, but

there are effective over-the-counter products such as Nix and Rid.

   But if you do use one of these preparations, follow the instructions

exactly.  Delouse clothing, bedding and combs according to directions; as

well as, head and body.  Remember to take all possible steps to protect

other members of your household, and to notify people who might have been

exposed through direct bodily or household contact, and to prevent

re-infestation.

   To help control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp,

children can be taught to avoid activities that may spread head lice.  For

more information, contact your family health care provider, school nurse or

visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com or find us on Facebook at

Henry and Stark County Health Departments.


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