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What to do when children bring lice to school

It is relatively common for children to bring lice home from school. The experts at the Health and Prevention Blog tell us what to do about these annoying scalp parasites.

What to do when children bring lice to school

It is common for children to catch lice at school. Photo provided by Quirónsalud

Lice are parasitic insects that feed on blood and “live” on the heads of humans, such as children. The female produces a sticky substance to adhere the eggs (the nits) to the base of the hair shaft; the heat of the scalp helps with their incubation and within 8 or 10 days they hatch.

Nits are distinguishable because they are white or yellowish balls, which can be confused with dandruff, which can only be removed manually because they are stuck to the hair as a result of the saliva of the female.

Lice live approximately 28 days and develop in three phases:

  • Egg or lily of the valleywhich is incubated for a period of between 7 and 12 days.
  • nymphlike an adult louse, but smaller and becomes an adult 9 to 12 days after hatching.
  • I adult lousewhen it can multiply and lay up to ten eggs per day.

The eggs only take between 12 and 14 days to reach adulthood.

“For this reason, when we detect lice on our child we must continue to check the hair for the next 14 days”point Natalia Gallardo García i Laura Sánchez Sorianurses of Pediatric Nursing Service of the Quirónsalud San José Hospital.

The most common symptom that causes pediculosis is itching, especially behind the ears and on the nape of the neck. This happens because the louse secretes saliva on the scalp and it reacts. Sometimes it takes time for children to start scratching, depending on the sensitivity of their skin.

How lice are spread among children

It is difficult to prevent contagion among children who go to nursery school or school, since contact is inevitable and contagion is very fast, without this meaning that there are bad hygiene habits in children.

It is important to remember that lice do not transmit disease, that they are not transmitted by animals and, very importantly, that lice cannot jump or fly, but are spread through close contact between children, when they play or interact in close proximity each other or if you have contact with contaminated surfaces – for example, if clothes with lice are placed in wardrobes or on hangers at school.

They can also be spread when stored with personal items such as pillows, blankets, towels, combs, brushes and stuffed toys.

And, of course, contact with furniture that has lice: getting into bed in a bed or sitting in an armchair with fabric cushions where a person with lice has sat or fallen, as they can live one or two days without being in contact with a human body. That is why it is important to do a thorough cleaning at home.

It is advisable to vacuum sofas, carpets and mattresses”. remember Natalia Gallardo and Laura Sánchez. “Clothes, sheets, towels and stuffed animals should be washed in hot water at 50-60 degrees and if they cannot be washed, they can be placed in a closed plastic bag for 14 days”.

Some over-the-counter products can repel infestation, but there is no shampoo, cologne, or lotion that will prevent children from getting lice.

“Lice products containing 1 percent permethrin can be found at the pharmacy. You must follow the instructions of the product, arm yourself with patience to remove the lice with a lice remover (comb with very close bristles) and repeat the operation after 7-10 days“, indicate the pediatric nurses. If the infestation continues after two weeks, it is necessary to consult the pediatrician.

A very important thing to emphasize is that no one is free to be infected by these nasty parasites; children and adults are exposed to contagion.

That is why there is no need to feel ashamed or to isolate the infested child. Having lice is not a sign of dirtiness or lack of hygiene, and these pesky critters can be a temporary problem regardless of how well a person washes their hair or bathes.

Of course, when detecting them, you must report it to the school so that children and families can take the necessary measures to put an end to these unpleasant tenants.

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