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22 Mar, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

How to get rid of lice

If you are ever at a loss for conversation in a group of parents, just mention the word lice. Suddenly, everyone will be scratching their heads and talking. Very few families get through the elementary school years without at least one bout of lice — some children get them several times, sometimes even within the same school year.

Now there is a new treatment for the dreaded pediculus humanus capitis (the head louse): a spray called NYDA. Available in pharmacies, it does not contain pesticides but uses dimeticone — a kind of silicone — to suffocate lice and their eggs, which are called nits. It can be used on children as young as 2. Spray it on dry hair, massage it in and leave it for 30 minutes. Then remove the dead lice and nits with the fine-tooth comb that comes in the package. The spray can also be applied in the evening and left on while the child sleeps. After eight to 10 days, a second treatment is recommended to ensure all lice have been killed. Information about the product, treatment and even a video about how it works can be found at www.nyda.ca.

While many myths about lice persist, getting them has nothing to do with hygiene or hair cleanliness. They are an equal-opportunity parasite. Lice are passed through head-to-head contact and occasionally through contact with personal belongings like hats, scarves and combs.

Many different products exist to treat lice. Some use chemicals or pesticides, while others like NYDA don’t. Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services has a booklet, called Lice, Lice, Lice . . .  All You Need To Know About Head Lice, available in PDF form, outlining the treatment options and steps to take if your child has lice. You’ll also find helpful illustrations to help you identify lice eggs (nits), as some schools and daycares will send a child home if they find nits on the scalp.

If you’re worried about these creepy-crawlies making an appearance or re-appearance this year, remember that a little prevention can go a long way. Check your child’s head regularly, and know what your treatment options are if you find any lice or nits. That should bring a measure of peace to your school year.

School checks limit lice infestations

By Elisabeth Kalbfuss

The stories are legend – the family that gets three outbreaks of lice in one school year, the kindergarten class where 20 out of 25 children are infected.

Lice are becoming so widespread now that some schools have implemented regular “lice checks” when they have a serious infestation or as a preventive action at the beginning of the school year and after longer breaks.

Check for lice frequently After March break this year, Lower Canada College hired Wendy Schaffer-Berenbaum, the “Lice Fairy”, who does home visits to help parents tackle the problem. She trained about half a dozen parent volunteers and, grade by grade, they checked all the children coming back to the junior school. They did it again this fall during the first days of school.

“It’s the best thing they could do, trying to head it off at the pass,” said Roberta Taite, one of the volunteers, who has children in Grades 1 and 4. “We care enough that we don’t want the kids to be infested,” she said. “That’s the way it should be done.”

Junior school director Yasmine Ghandour said keeping the program going at her school will depend on having a steady supply of volunteers ready to commit their time.

“It definitely helps,” she said. “We just hope we can maintain it because it’s asking for quite a bit of (volunteer) time from your parents.”

Taite said she found the training helpful, to learn to identify the lice and nits, and that she now knows how to deal with the critters if her kids ever have an outbreak.

“The most important thing I learned is that you really have to put your energy into checking the hair (regularly) and going for the nits. Some people go crazy cleaning but, if you don’t pay attention to the scalp and hair, you won’t get rid of them.”

The outbreaks at LCC were no worse than those at other schools, Schaffer-Berenbaum said. “The difference is that they decided to do something about it.”

Families in the greater Montreal area who feel overwhelmed by a lice problem can contact Wendy the Lice Fairy. She’ll come to your house, get rid of the lice from your child’s head and offer tips for preventing any return of the creatures. She can be reached at (514) 880-3969 or visit her Facebook Page.

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