Parents, look out for head lice after school breaks

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016
VIDEO: Controlling head lice
Parents should do weekly head checks to prevent small problem from growing.

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (WPVI) -- As kids go back to school after the blizzard, parents should make sure they aren't bringing along any unwanted "friends."

We're referring to head lice.

Experts say outbreaks happen more after time off.

It's a subject no one wants to talk about, but a little education and awareness can prevent a small problem from turning into a big infestation.

Ilene and Ed Steinberg founded the Center for Lice Control.

They make house calls and help parents get rid of head lice.

Ilene says while the bugs are a nuisance, dealing with lice doesn't have to be a nightmare.

"It is not that difficult when you have the right tools, right guidance and right information," says Ilene Steinberg.

Her mission is to educate parents on what to look for.

Lice nits, or eggs, are tiny.

But detecting lice early, before they lay more eggs, is the best way to prevent an outbreak.

With her daughter Amanda, Ilene demonstrates in the video above how to do a head check.

You'll need a metal nit comb.

Hair should be wet and in two side ponytails.

"And you are keeping the comb right on the scalp and then pull all the way down," says Ilene.

After five to six swipes, wipe the comb on a white paper towel and inspect.

"You'll see the nits there. They are going to show up and they look like little brown, oval, kind of specks, very uniform in shape," Steinberg notes.

She says it's unrealistic to rely on a school nurse to check every student.

So parents should do this head lice check once a week.

If lice are found, treatment should start right away.

Older over-the-counter products worked great decades ago, but the bugs have become resistant.

Ilene recommends a dimethicone-based product.

They use their own called KaPow.

And to make sure there's no recurrence, she says repeat treatment on day 6 and day 12.

Bed linens should also be washed and put in the dryer.

Pillows can go in the dryer or use a vacuum.

Ilene says we typically see a spike around this time, especially when kids have been out of school.

So prevention is important.

Don't share hats and brushes, and do head checks once a week.

The Center for Lice Control also runs a hotline, where parents can take a picture of suspected lice and send it in for advice.

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