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The Next Stage – A Louse-y Problem

The very thought of head lice creates a sense of dread and an intense itch. There is stigma around having head lice, but it is an inordinately common problem.  There is a thought that having lice is associated with poor hygiene, but it is very easy to catch in schools and public places.

The louse is a wingless insect that lives on the human scalp and lives on human blood. Other related species to the head lice are those that affect the body and the pubic area (often called crabs).

Head lice can be transmitted through close contact but also through the sharing of hats and scarves, brushes and combs, bedding and towels. Lice cause an intense itching in the scalp.

Treating lice requires vigilance and persistence.  Pediculicides, such as Nix shampoo, are used to kill the lice. The treatment requires to be repeated again in 10 to 14 days as the second crop of eggs hatches.  All clothing and bedding must be washed in hot water before re-using.

The nits and eggs are most visible at the nape of the neck and behind the ears.  A fine tooth metal comb must be used to remove these as they can cling to the hair.

The Middlesex London Health Unit has extensive information on the regimen to treat lice.  (www.healthunit.com)

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests the following regimen:

  1. Before applying treatment, it may be helpful to remove clothing that can become wet or stained during treatment.
  2. Apply lice medicine, also called pediculicide, according to the instructions contained in the box or printed on the label. If the infested person has very long hair (longer than shoulder length), it may be necessary to use a second bottle. Pay special attention to instructions on the label or in the box regarding how long the medication should be left on the hair and how it should be washed out.

Here is wishing you freedom from lice!!


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