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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Parents urged to check children for head lice in the coming weeks

With children going back to school in the coming weeks, pharmacists are warning about the dangers of head lice.

Image: Child scratching head via Shutterstock

PARENTS ARE BEING urged to routinely screen their children for head lice as they return to school in the coming weeks.

Pharmacists say that parents should inspect their children’s hair for lice every week and particularly in the run up to them going back to school in the next few weeks.

Head lice infestations are most common in children aged between 4 and 11 and most children will get them at least once.

There is no way of preventing head lice but early detection can make it easier to get rid of them and reduce the likelihood that there will be an outbreak.

Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) vice president Kathy Maher said: “While lice aren’t dangerous, they are extremely contagious and their bites may cause a child’s scalp to become itchy and inflamed.

“Persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation and, potentially, even infection so it is important to treat head lice quickly.”

Maher claimed that head lice are an “age-old pest” with lice combs and the remains of mummified lice found in ancient Egyptian tombs which date back thousands of years.

The IPU has released a five-point checklist for parents to inspect their children’s hair:

  1. Check children’s hair regularly by wet combing the hair every week to search for nits/lice.
  2. Always tie up long hair in a ponytail to avoid hair coming into contact with other hair that might be infected.
  3. When necessary, treat the hair as soon as possible, but only if live lice or unhatched eggs are present. Ask your pharmacist about the most appropriate treatment option for your child. Never treat a child as a preventative measure – it isn’t effective.
  4. Inform the school, their friends and other contacts immediately if your child is infected as everyone will need to be checked.
  5. Keep calm and make the experience as least distressing as possible for the child.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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