Don’t refuse help when treat­ing lice, says par­ent

The Compass - - EDI­TO­RIAL OPIN­ION -

Do not he­si­tate to visit your com­mu­nity health clinic. I vis­ited at least three times, and phoned as needed. Com­mu­nity health nurses are there to as­sist, and I ob­tained help­ful strate­gies for nit-clean­ing and treat­ment dur­ing each visit or phone call. It is also en­cour­ag­ing to know that there is a se­cond (or third or fourth) set of eyes check­ing out your nit­clean­ing pro­cesses and ver­i­fy­ing for you if you are on the right track to rid­ding lice and nits.

Take the time to un­der­stand what it means to re­ally treat head lice. This has to be one of the most sig­nif­i­cant points, as I be­lieve that mis­con­cep­tions on this one is­sue are likely part of the source of the con­tin­ued, lousy prob­lem.

Not a one- day so­lu­tion

Even as I write this ar­ti­cle, I am still in the treat­ment phase with my chil­dren (Day 6). Treat­ment is NOT solely a one-day, one-time ap­pli­ca­tion of a prod­uct but, rather, a process that in­volves prod­uct ap­pli­ca­tion, nit-clean­ing for a num­ber of days and pos­si­bly a se­cond treat­ment.

I ac­knowl­edge that I mis­un­der­stood this, as I al­ways heard “treat the child and then send the child to school the next day.” The “next day” could be any­where from Day 8 on­wards fol­low­ing your first sight­ing of a louse. Fur­ther­more, it can in­volve a time­frame that runs any­where from one to three weeks (or even longer) de­pend­ing on how suc­cess­ful you are in rid­ding the head of lice, nymphs and nits in the first seven days and/or any other ad­di­tional fol­low-up treat­ment re­quired.

Let me ex­plain my new un­der­stand­ing of what the treat­ment process in­volves:

On Day 1, a Satur­day, I dis­cov­ered live lice and nits in two of my chil­dren’s hair. I had al­ready read and un­der­stood that this meant that I treat them once, and, based on a child’s right to ed­u­ca­tion, hu­man rights, etc., I would then be within my right to send them to school the next school day.

How­ever, I have dis­cov­ered that this is not ac­cu­rate for all cases. Treat­ment of lice and nits is at least a seven-day process, and it is my firm be­lief that chil­dren should not be sent back to school/ac­tiv­i­ties un­til that treat­ment process is com­plete.

Ac­cord­ing to Eastern Health, treat­ment of head lice in­cludes a) a two-step ap­pli­ca­tion of a prod­uct on Day 1 and Day 7, b) daily head checks dur­ing that pe­riod, and c) on­go­ing man­ual re­moval of all nits or eggs.

If live lice are dis­cov­ered dur­ing that pe­riod, the treat­ment pe­riod could be longer, and may even in­volve ap­pli­ca­tion of ad­di­tional treat­ment lo­tions be­fore the first seven days are com­plete. I be­lieve that it is only after the full treat­ment process that chil­dren should re­turn to school and/or ac­tiv­i­ties.

Never- end­ing cy­cle

The fact that chil­dren are sent back to school on Day 2 of their treat­ment cy­cle ap­pears to be part of the rea­son why the seem­ingly nev­erend­ing cy­cle of in­fec­tion of head lice con­tin­ues. If, on Day 7 or af­ter­wards, there are still nits and/ or live lice, then the treat­ment pe­riod con­tin­ues.

A com­mu­nity health pro­fes­sional should be able to ver­ify for you when/if your child is ready to re­turn to school/ac­tiv­i­ties based on re­ports of whether or not lice and/or nits are still present. How­ever, while your child still has live lice, nymphs or nits in their hair, re­gard­less of whether or not a school or school district has a “no nit” pol­icy, the child should not be sent back to school, since they have not been fully treated.

If I had sent my chil­dren back to school on the first day fol­low­ing ini­tial prod­uct ap­pli­ca­tion, which is what many think ‘ treat­ment’ refers to, I would have sent them back with nits still in their hair and/or live lice. De­spite my ef­forts to re­move ev­ery nit or louse, it took me five days to do so.

If I had elected to not ex­er­cise my right to keep my chil­dren home, I might have po­ten­tially ex­posed other peo­ple — your chil­dren — to con­tract­ing head lice.

You will hear many care­givers, teach­ers, coaches, and even the oc­ca­sional phar­ma­cist sug­gest that they can­not tell you to not send your child back to school/ ac­tiv­ity after treat­ment. They are man­dated to tell you this from sources that are higher up ( board lev­els, gov­ern­ment, etc.), and this no­tion is based on hu­man

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