December 1, 2012

Head lice: common but combatable


Nits and lice must be removed with a special comb because regular combs will not do the job.

“Lice-killing products are pesticides and should be used cautiously,” especially with animals in the home, Smith added. Humans are always vulnerable to side effects, like skin irritation or allergic reactions, as with any medication.


“A lot of paranoia comes with head lice,” said Kristine Gay, Keene Central School registered nurse. 

She checks about 80 heads in students grade K-6 in the school, which has about 167 students total, including grades K-12.

Head lice are usually an issue among younger children, in Gay’s experience, but overlooked carriers could affect older kids, as well.

“A lot of people don’t think about sports helmets and those silly little things like hair ties,” Gay said, as means of spreading lice.

She usually checks students in grade K-6 only, but she because lice spread like wildfire and all of the grades are in one building, she checks siblings in grades 7-12 if a younger one tests positive.

“It should always be on a mom’s mind. There isn’t a lice season.”

Going on a sleepover? It’s best for kids to bring their own pillows in case someone is undiagnosed, she advised.

Stuffed animals are a huge carrier, which is difficult because younger kids love to share, but they need to be cautious with their toys.

“We have a very strict ‘no-nit’ policy,” Gay said.

As with AuSable Forks Elementary, a student with lice at KCS must be sent home right away upon diagnosis for treatment, returning to school the next day with a parent or guardian to be cleared by the nurse.

At KCS, the child must also be driven back for classes or events for the next 14 days after they’re cleared, weekends inclusive, to help prevent spreading on buses in a district that encompasses all grade levels in one building.

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