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School Can Mean Increased Risk of Head Lice

School can result in some children bringing home more than homework.

Posted: Oct. 27, 2017 7:27 AM

CLEVELAND – School can result in some children bringing home more than homework.

Skyler Kalady, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s said that school is an easy place for children to pick up head lice, simply because kids are in close proximity to one another.

The good news, though, is that lice are mostly just an annoyance.

“Head lice is really a public nuisance,” said Dr. Kalady. “It’s caused by something called a louse that hops from head to head and causes inflammation and infection. It actually doesn’t produce a disease; it’s really just a nuisance.”

Dr. Kalady said that if a child comes home scratching at their hair, don’t assume it’s just dandruff – do a more thorough inspection.

If caregivers notice that a child is really focusing their scratching around the hairline and the nape of their neck, it very well could be head lice to blame, as these are the areas that are particularly attractive to the tiny bugs.

Dr. Kalady said that you can see a live louse with the naked eye, but they don’t like light and they move quickly, so it’s actually fairly difficult to identify them if you’ve never seen them before.

If lice are suspected, Dr. Kalady said it’s a good idea to talk to your school’s nurse, who likely has a lot of experience in identifying them, or call the pediatrician’s office.

“You don’t have to be seen in your doctor’s office, and in fact in some regards, it’s better to keep it at home and not spread it to other venues,” said Dr. Kalady. “You can certainly make a phone call to your pediatrician –talk to the nurse-on-call if there’s someone available – and get some recommendations about the common over-the-counter medications that you can purchase.”

Dr. Kalady said that lice tend to nest in longer hair, because it’s easier for them to adhere to, but they could be present in either short or long hair.

She said there are no long term repercussions from head lice, they’re just irritating.

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