Stories about: head lice

Head lice: What parents need to know

Earlier this year, a Springfield toddler suffocated as her family attempted a home treatment for head lice. The case is a tragic reminder that anyone can get lice, no matter your income, the way you clean your home or how many pets you own. But there are recommended ways to treat an infestation.

Are there natural or home remedies that work? There are some who claim that mayonnaise or petroleum jelly can be used to coat the head and smother the lice. This has not been proven effective, and even the most well-behaved of young children will not sit with goop on their heads for the recommended 20 hours while wearing a shower cap.

Added to the questionable effectiveness of natural remedies are some serious issues:

  • There are frequent allergies to natural remedies like tea tree oil.
  • Plastic shower caps used for protecting fancy hair-dos from the shower are dangerous around children. Children should never have plastic bags on their heads.
  • Oils—peppermint oil, pepper oil or the essential oil of your choice—used in home remedies to smother lice are really hard to clean out of hair, couches and bedding.
  • The remedy some adults use for head lice—dying hair—should not be used on children. Your child most likely already uses shampoos and sunblock for sensitive skin. Adult hair dye can cause reactions for children, including broken skin, hair loss, hives, itching and burns.

How do you know your child has lice?

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This week on Thrive, August 2-6

Here’s a round up of Thrive’s pediatric coverage this past week.

Children’s last appearance on Boston Med aired this Thursday. Here’s an exclusive video with the ER doc featured on the program, as well as a wrap up Thrive’s coverage of ABC’s series.

David Ludwig, MD, MPH, was co-author on a study that linked excessive weight gain by pregnant woman to potential health concerns for the baby later.

Massachusetts’ governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that requires private insurance companies to help pay for behavioral therapy for children with autism. Prior to the bill many families were forced to pay for these costly treatments out of pocket.

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Living through lice: AAP's recommendations

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435-300x198Head lice. Two words that make anyone’s head start itching almost immediately.

Head lice are incredibly common, especially among school-aged children. There aren’t any good numbers on infestations, but it’s somewhere in the millions every year (just in the U.S.)—and these tiny bugs end up costing the country millions of dollars, if you include not just treatments but lost wages. The American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a clinical report on head lice to educate parents about what should—and should not—be done while battling lice in the home.

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The low-down on head lice

Claire McCarthyAround 10 years ago, my family got head lice—and I thought we might have them forever.

I will never forget it. My head had been itchy for a while; I tried dandruff shampoo but it didn’t help. One day, desperate with itching, I asked a colleague at work if she’d check my scalp for me. “Claire,” she said, “you’ve got head lice.” I called home, and told my husband to check himself and the kids. They were infested too.

By the time I got home, my husband had bought permethrin cream rinse and treated everyone. I immediately globbed the stuff on my scalp for the allotted time and used the little plastic comb in the box, combing out some of the nits (and lots of creepy-crawly black bugs). We washed all the bedding and clothes, scrubbed all the brushes and combs, tossed the stuffed animals in the dryer. We were relieved—but within a day or two, it was clear that we were still infested. A week later, according to the instructions (and what I’d learned in medical school), we did it again—to no avail. Those bugs were undaunted; they had no intention of leaving our heads.

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