The leaves are turning, and there’s a chill in the air – no doubt about it, fall is here!
Each year, 80 percent of schools will have at least one lice outbreak. Next to the common cold, a case of head lice is the most common condition that affects children, mostly due to the fact that lice are highly infectious.
Lice are spread through head-to-head contact and incidentally, they prefer a clean head of hair to a dirty one.
What Are Lice?
Lice are parasitic insects that feed off the blood of human scalps, so you won’t find them nestled in the fur of the family pet. They don’t jump or fly and although they cause irritation and scratching, they don’t carry disease.
A louse (the singular form of lice) goes through several different stages in its very short life span. It starts as a nit and will grow to the size of a sesame seed. An infestation occurs when the adult louse starts to lay eggs, (50 to 150 in all), and each egg will produce 150 more nits.
So Your Child Has Lice, Now What?
Notify the school nurse so he or she can alert other parents and children. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears demonstrates how to check for and treat lice. If one person in the family comes home with head lice, the chance of someone else in the family catching it is a whopping 80 percent, so make sure to seek treatment immediately.
Head Lice Rx:
•Avoid sharing hats, brushes, combs, clothing or helmets
•Have several treatments, three to four days apart
•Disinfect combs and brushes
•Machine wash clothing and bedding two days before and after treatment
•Vacuum floor and furniture, but don't fumigate
•Seal stuffed animals in plastic bags for two weeks
School nurses are a wonderful resource for parents. Robin Fleming, R.N., Ph.D. from the Seattle, Washington Public School District says it’s important to put a plan in place should your child fall ill.
Download The Doctors health plan.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer found in women.
Eighty to 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
The best way to prevent breast cancer is through screenings, early and often. A yearly clinical exam, monthly self-exams, mammograms and breast pap smears are all excellent screening tools.
OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson demonstrates how a clinical breast exam is performed.
Find out where you can get a low- or no-cost breast exam in your area.
Support breast cancer research! Shop New Balance’s Lace Up for the Cure line of athletic shoes and clothing.
October is also National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) Awareness Month. SIDS is the unexplained sudden death of a child under 1, and is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. SIDS often occurs when babies are asleep in their cribs.
Dos and Don’ts of Crib Safety:
• Have your baby sleep on his or her back.
• Keep the crib as bare as possible.
• Make your home a smoke-free environment.
• Keep a fan in the baby’s room. It can reduce the risk of SIDS by 70 percent.
• Put the crib in the parents’ bedroom until the infant is 6 months old.
• Don’t overstuff the crib with full bedding, extra pillows or bumper pads. If you need to use a bumper pad, opt for a flat one.
• Don’t use sleep wedges, unless your doctor recommends them.
• Don’t leave stuffed animals in the crib.
• Don’t overheat the baby with extra blankets.
• Don’t keep the baby dressed in a skullcap.
• Don’t use loose sheets and blankets. Use one tightly fitted sheet around the mattress and keep the baby in a sleep sack with a closed bottom and arm openings.
The Snuza Halo is a monitoring device that senses a baby’s breathing. If the baby stops moving, it vibrates to nudge the baby awake. If the baby doesn’t move, then an alarm sounds to alert parents.
Read Dr. Sears' blog for more SIDS prevention tips.
October Health Homework
1. Make sure your child’s vision and hearing tests and immunizations are up to date. If they’re not, make an appointment with your pediatrician right away!
2. Invest in a daily moisturizer that’s richer than what you use in warmer months. Keeping skin moisturized at the beginning of a cold, blustery season is one of the best ways to keep skin healthy and prevent premature aging.
3. Get a flu shot.
Download The Doctors October Health Calendar!