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MOMS & DADS TALK: Worried About Head Lice?

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There are some things about the early 90s that I'll never forget: The 1992 presidential election (my first grade class had a pretend vote), Super Mario World and head lice.

Living in North Perry Hall, I attended , a little gem on Sunshine Avenue. The dedicated teachers, the gorgeous grounds, those incredibly patient lunch ladies—I loved it there. But, unfortunately, our fun was often punctuated by class trips to the nurse's office.

In a single file line, we filtered through her tiny closet-sized office. It took only  seconds for her to sift through our scalps with tongue depressors, in search of head lice.

I remember standing in the hallway, praying that I would be spared. Fortunately, I never had head lice, but plenty of my classmates did. They certainly weren't dirty children. Their parents appeared to take good care of them. But the idea of bugs living in their hair was disgusting and terrifying.

Children left behind in the nurse's office after an inspection were often subject to name-calling and any number of nasty rumors.

Unfortunately, few of us understood that head lice has nothing to do cleanliness or personal hygiene. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head lice is caused simply by head-to-head contact with an infected person, most common during sports activities, on the playground, during slumber parties or at camp.

They can also be spread by sharing clothing or belongings. Children are at the highest risk, but any person can act as a host. Head lice is not considered a major medical or public health hazard. They cause itchiness and sometimes bleeding, but they cannot spread disease, according to the CDC.

Recent news reports show that head lice is on the rise in Harford County. Are you worried about it in Perry Hall schools as well? Have you talked to your kids about head lice? How are children with head lice treated?

Stacey Schantz March 11, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Oh, I share your fear about head lice. I also remember a terrible experience as a child when I had a slumber party, and after it was over one girl's parent called my mother and informed us her daughter had head lice as a result of my party... I'll never forget how horrified I was bc everyone thought she got it from me! Fortunately, I haven't had to treat head lice with my children, although I'm sure the day will come. I have seen quite a few reports and news stories on how to treat head lice today. The stories have even featured "salons" geared to treating this problem. I don't know if there is such a place here in Perry Hall or even in Maryland, but I would certainly seek out professionals to help deal with this. Although, I sure hope it's not something I have to deal with anytime soon. Yuck!
Stacey Schantz March 11, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Ok, so I'm still thinking about this... So I searched the web to see if there was one of those "salons" in Baltimore County. I did find this mobile company that will come to your home and treat your child - www.licehappens.com. So anyone currently fighting this problem might benefit from this company's help.
Debi Mikolowsky March 11, 2011 at 07:57 PM
LiceHappens is a great resource!! We have not had any run ins with head lice just yet, but I am not overly concerned if we do face it at some point. I know that there are more gentle ways of treating head lice now than when I was a child. When I was in kindergarten, I did contract head lice and I remember my mother putting all sorts of strange and foul smelling stuff in my hair, and picking at my head with a fine tooth comb. I am really glad that we have less invasive treatments these days!
Richard Pollack March 11, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Folks might find it valuable to read the latest reports about head lice provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses, and the CDC. Links to these reports are contained within my own informational website at https://identify.us.com/head-lice/index.html. This is the new home for the information I formerly hosted at the Harvard School of Public Health. Before parents treat for lice, they should ensure that they're really dealing with a bona fide louse infestation. Please view the information and resources you will find on my site.
Emily Kimball (Editor) March 11, 2011 at 09:56 PM
Thanks Richard, that's a great resource for parents!
Nancy Jackson March 12, 2011 at 12:57 AM
When my daughter was in grade school, her school sent home a paper saying that head lice had been found on a student. The next day was the last day of school before spring break, and the school was planning to treat the school over spring break. I put her hair in braids and sent her to school with instructions not to let her head touch anything and absolutely not to try on a hat, share a comb, take her braids out, etc. We never did get lice -- thank God! It was always one of my biggest fears. Recently my daughter called from college to say that bedbugs had been found in her dorm although not in her room ... I guess it never ends! Nancy Jackson
Richard Pollack March 12, 2011 at 02:06 AM
Nancy, For information about the biology and management of bed bugs (or head lice, ticks, etc), visit my site (https://identify.us.com). The guidance is non-commercial and independent, and provides insight on means to reduce risk and concern. Do realize that, despite commonly held myths, head lice would rarely - if ever - transfer on shared hats, combs, brushes, etc.
Elissa C. Rosenthal March 12, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Moms and dads, be strong and vigilant. Lice happens. While I can think of far better things to happen to our children, a case of lice is by no means the worst thing that can happen to them either. To read a humorous take on my family's adventures with the "Lice Capades" check out my column on Sharon Patch at this link: http://sharon.patch.com/articles/hair-today-post-lice-stress-disorder-tomorrow

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