SPONSORED RESOURCE: Head Lice Prevention

Written by: HTU | Published:

Tackling head lice is not a school’s responsibility, but by taking some simple steps to educate our parents we can have a big impact on outbreak prevention. Christine Brown explains.

Tackling head lice is not a school’s responsibility, but by taking some simple steps to educate our parents we can have a big impact on outbreak prevention. Christine Brown explains.

One in five children will have head lice at any one time, but new findings reveal parents are so confused by the amount of head lice advice, that they are turning to unconventional treatment methods such as raw egg and even bleach.

Nearly a quarter of parents turn to the internet for advice on treating head lice, with social media and parenting websites being most commonly used. The most popular conversation threads saw a number of parents recommending bizarre treatment methods.

Head lice are an extremely common issue but they can cause a great deal of frustration, embarrassment and upset to both children and parents if not caught early and treated correctly.

While responsibility to manage head lice lies with the parent, by implementing a simple process schools can act in a supportive role, reducing the number of future outbreaks as well as the impact they can have on the family.

Keep parents educated

If you are alerted to an outbreak at school, informing parents to be extra vigilant and to take quick action if they find lice can limit the spread. A recent poll found that 46 per cent of parents did not understand the need to check for lice on a regular basis and one in four thought that the school was actively checking for head lice on their behalf.

Some schools send a rapid response text, but sending a letter, putting an alert on the school’s Facebook page and displaying posters can also be effective methods during an outbreak.

Schools need to reiterate that parents should be checking their children for lice on a regular basis and treating if live lice are found. Website www.onceaweektakeapeek.com has some great advice for parents on head lice management.

A new animation on head lice is available. The video is a fresh, new approach to head lice management – an amusing yet cautionary tale for parents, created to help de-stigmatise the issue and educate on the rapid spread of lice. Parents can visit www.facebook.com/onceaweektakeapeek for more information.

Know the experts

The pharmacy is the best place to direct parents for one-to-one expert advice. Pharmacists and specially trained counter-assistants are able to offer counsel on clinically proven treatments and protection products to guard against head lice infections.

Direct parents to support

Directing parents to head lice literature will demonstrate the additional support available and will help reassure worried parents. The Once A Week, Take A Peek campaign was launched to raise awareness of the importance of making weekly checks and being more vigilant as part of the family routine.

The campaign is supported by leading head lice treatment Hedrin, the Medical Entomology Centre, and the School and Public Health Nurses Association.

Schools can offer practical advice by directing parents to the Once A Week, Take A Peek website, holding “bug busting” days at the school, giving parents an information pack at the start of the school term, and offering advice on the school’s Facebook page.

Join the crusade against head lice by putting the Once a Week, Take a Peek campaign into practice in your school. Find Once A Week, Take A Peek on Facebook and download free materials for the school at www.onceaweektakeapeek.co.uk

The Facts Of Lice

  • Lice are wingless insects, living and feeding on the blood from the scalp.
  • Nits are actually the empty egg cases left on the hair after the lice have hatched.
  • Adult lice can live for as long as a month, with females laying several eggs a day. Research indicates that one untreated female louse can lead to an infestation of 1,000 head lice in just a month.
  • Lice can only spread by head-to-head contact.
  • The best known symptom of head lice is the itching, but only 30 per cent are aware of it. It can be uncomfortable, affect sleep and even affect a child’s confidence.
  • Lice have no preference to clean or dirty hair and can only survive on human heads. They can’t live on bedding, clothes or pets.
  • Christine Brown is a former school nurse and consultant to the Medical Entomology Centre.

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