Nit picking’ important in battle against ‘super lice

As the new school year begins, so have small outbreaks of the sesame-seed sized, blood-sucking parasites known as head lice across Southern California. While reports of so-called treatment-resistant “super lice” have emerged in 25 states, including California, few healthcare professionals including officials at the California Department of Public Health say they have seen little evidence of them in patients.

In short, lice remain a growing problem, infecting 6 to 12 million children under the age of 11 annually, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lice may be tiny, but they cause extreme head itching, living in hair and sucking on human blood. Yet unlike body lice, head lice spread no known disease or illness, medical professionals say. The worst part of infestation, medication-resistant lice aside, may be the psychology of it.

Researchers at James Cook University in Australia found, in a study published in the February 2013 issue of the International Journal of Dermatology, that the strong negative reactions toward lice in Western nations creates “more problematic issues than the infection itself” including unnecessary quarantine, over treatment “and a potentially negative psychological impact.”

According to district nurse Donna Ball, Redondo Beach Unified School District provided head lice prevention information to parents last fall. There’s been nothing “out of the ordinary” in the district this school year, she said.

Children come back to school, and everyone looks for lice, and if you’re looking, you may find some cases. As for the so-called “super lice?” “Lice have just become more resistant to over-the-counter treatments. If you carefully pull out those nits, they’re going to go away.”

The district encourages parents to check their childrens’ heads daily for symptoms such as tiny nits or eggs close to the scalp. If lice are detected, parents are told to keep the child home until the infestation is treated, and report it to the school and CDC immediately.

The school district reminds parents that shampoos alone don’t get rid of nits, only bugs. To get rid of nits, nit combs and often hand removal are also necessary, as is repeat medicated shampoo treatment. Treating household items by washing in hot water and drying on high heat, dry cleaning, or bagging is also key to ending the infestation. The district requires an adult accompany the child to school on the first day they return after treatment, and the child will be checked before returning to school.

Bring in professional ‘nit pickers’
And, if the prospect of tedious “nit picking” is too much for parents, they can bring in professionals like Los Angeles Head Lice Treatment.
Five years ago lice became rampant. Now it’s not a question of if your child will get lice, but when. Especially with this weather, it’s very hot and humid; lice are everywhere. In regard to super lice, all that expression means is there are lice that the chemicals don’t kill. We educate parents to use a good lice comb and conditioner, that’s how you get rid of them.

Los Angeles Head Lice Treatment offers in-home services, does not use chemicals and stresses prevention. We tell parents and teachers that if they follow our guidelines, they’ll never get lice again. Do a comb check a maximum of once a week and a minimum of once a month. Good lice combs should be available to every parent. Combing is the new flossing. We also stress that looking through a child’s hair is not enough: only combing will do to prevent lice. You’re never going to find all the nits with your fingers.

Some Southland residents believe “selfies” are responsible for spreading lice among children as they put their heads together for a photo. Los Angeles County’s Acute Communicable Disease Control office says that “direct head-to-head contact may lead to lice moving from one child to another. It’s uncertain what role selfies may play and how often kids put their heads together to take them. Lice do not commonly spread through shared clothes, hats, or pillows, and many lice transmissions occur outside of schools.

Facts about head lice

To help prevent or stem transmission, be aware of these facts from the California Department of Health Services and Los Angeles Unified School District Nursing Services about head lice:

• Head lice do not jump from person to person. They don’t fly.

• They do go from person to person via head-to-head contact, and when headphones, barrettes, combs and other personal items are shared.

• Socioeconomic background or lack of cleanliness has nothing to do with determining who gets lice.

• Lice live in people’s hair, feed on their blood, and die within two days without feeding.

• Lice glue their eggs, or “nits” to hair.

• Eggs take six to nine days to hatch and seven or more days to become egg-laying adults.

• The only way to know if your child has lice is to look through the child’s hair.

• Don’t confuse dirt and dandruff with nits.

• Check all family members’ hair completely. Common places to find head lice are close to the scalp, the neckline and behind ears.

Please call Los Angeles Head Lice Treatment with any questions (323) 988-1265