The Food and Drug Administration is attempting to help parents protect their children from head lice. In a new consumer health update, the agency has outlined some of the myths surrounding head lice as well as those ways parents can protect their young ones, especially at the start of winter break when the risk of contracting the lice will increase. With the CDC figuring that up to 12 million kids will incur head lice at some point this year, it’s important for parents to understand the malady and what to do to prevent it from affecting their kids.
As explained by a dermatologist with the FDA, some of the things that parents may believe about head lice simply are not true. Because they only attach themselves to humans, there’s no worry that they can be contracted from a dog or a cat. Your kids also won’t be more susceptible to lice if they suffer from poor hygiene or hang out with someone who suffers from the same.
Instead, lice are able to move between children when the kids come into direct contact with each other. Because the lice will burrow into the scalp, another child’s head coming near an affected child’s will cause the lice to spread. Young kids are more inclined to be playing in close proximity, which is what makes them more inclined to contract the lice.
If you as a parent are concerned that your kid may have head lice (they’re scratching their heads excessively, for instance), you’ll want to comb through their hair to determine if that’s the case. You will need to keep an eye out for dandruff-esque nits that refuse to move when you move your fingernail across them. This is a sign that head lice has set in.
You may want to speak with a doctor to determine the best course of action. He or she will likely set you up with a prescription for a shampoo that can be washed in to the child’s hair to remove the head lice. Ask for instructions from the doctor or the pharmacist, and be sure to follow the label.
Of course, you probably want to know how to keep your child from going through such a situation in the first place. This can prove difficult, as you may not have control over a young child’s actions at school. You can, however, talk to them about coming into contact with kids’ heads or other items that may themselves contact their heads, like hats, headphones, and various other accessories.