Parents warned not to treat children for head lice preventively
THE Irish Pharmacists Union has warned parents against giving children head lice treatment as a pre-emptive strike against an outbreak.
As schools gear up for a new school year next week, it is estimated that one in ten children are infested with head lice at any one time.
However the group was warned that giving head lice treatment as a preventative measure doesn’t work.
“This approach doesn’t work, has no benefits and exposes children to pesticides unnecessarily,” Bernard Duggan of the IPU said.
“We are reminding parents that routine screening and early detection is the best and only prevention to an infestation of head lice.
“While it is understandable that parents want to try and prevent an outbreak, using treatment products as a precautionary measure does not work.
“We are reminding parents that treatments should only be used if there are nits or lice present in a child’s hair.”
Head lice is the second most common disease affecting schoolchildren, after the common cold.
80pc of all head lice infections occur in schoolchildren under the age of 16.
Mr Duggan said: “We are reminding parents that routine screening and early detection is the best and only prevention to an infestation of head lice.
Head Lice – Advice from Pharmacists
1. Check children’s hair for lice regularly. Wet comb the hair every week and tie up long hair in a ponytail to avoid hair coming into contact with other hair that might be infested.
2. Itching and scratching are common signs of head lice. As well as live lice which crawl around the head, look out for nits which are tiny eggs that may look like dandruff but can’t be flicked off the hair.
3. Check around the nape of the neck and ears as well as the head.
4. Treat the hair only if live lice or unhatched eggs are present. Treat the child and other family members as soon as possible. Always ask your pharmacist for advice on the most appropriate product to use.
5. Inform the school, contacts and friends when your child has nits. The school can then inform other parents that there is an outbreak, so everyone can check and treat their own children.
6. Always follow the instructions on the treatment pack and any advice given by your pharmacist. Products used to treat head lice do not prevent the infection from occurring and should never be used as a preventative measure.