The Shawnee News-Star
  • Head lice infestations worries parents at beginning of new school year

  • With the new school year beginning, there are several health issues on many parents’ minds. One of the biggest ones is head lice.
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  • With the new school year beginning, there are several health issues on many parents’ minds. One of the biggest ones is head lice.
    According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, head lice is not a reportable disease in Oklahoma, but the health department does investigate outbreaks of head lice to control the spread of the disease. Both Tecumseh and Shawnee school districts confirmed that there has not been an outbreak at this point in the school year.
    Head lice are parasitic insects commonly found in hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. The eggs, or nits, are very small and hard to see. According to the OSDH, people can sometimes confuse nits with dandruff or hair spray droplets because they are usually yellow to white and oval shaped.
    Once the egg hatches into a baby louse, or nymph, it can feed on the blood of the host and then mature into adult louse after about seven days after hatching. According to the OSDH, adult louse are easier to see because they are tan to grayish white and about the size of a sesame seed. However, lice are seen infrequently because they move quickly through the hair. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head and continue to reproduce.
    Parents should be cautious of the early signs of lice infestations and take the necessary steps to treat their children.
    According to the OSDH, the most common sign of a recent head lice infestation is scalp itching, particularly at the back of the head and around the ears. Sometimes the host can feel a tickling feeling of something moving in his or her hair.
    The OSDH warns that anyone who comes in direct contact with someone who already has head lice is a risk of infestation. Lice are spread through the direct or indirect contact with infested objects or people.
    The health department advises parents to teach their children to not share clothing, hats, brushes or combs with other children and teach them to hang coats and other personal belongings so they don’t touch the coats or belongs of other students. The health department also suggests that parents make head checks part of a routine hygiene regimen by checking their heads once a week to find lice early. If a parent believes their child came in contact with head lice at school, the health department advises parents work with schools as necessary to eliminate the head lice problem.
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