Relax, they’re just lice!

Many parents shudder in horror at the mere thought of little critters living on their child’s scalp. But they can calm down – other than the itchy scalp sometimes experienced, lice cause no physical discomfort and transmit no diseases, serious or benign. In fact, their worst effect appears to be the distress they cause parents.

Many parents shudder in horror at the mere thought of little critters living on their child’s scalp. But they can calm down – other than the itchy scalp sometimes experienced, lice cause no physical discomfort and transmit no diseases, serious or benign. In fact, their worst effect appears to be the distress they cause parents.

Having an itchy scalp does not justify applying a treatment against lice; you must actually have seen a live louse or at least have identified with complete certainty some nits (louse eggs) that are likely to hatch.

And yet it seems that lice infestations are often misdiagnosed. According to some estimates, at least half the children treated for head lice – and even sometimes forbidden to attend school or daycare – no longer have an active infestation or were never infested in the first place. For example, in an analysis of 600 samples of presumed lice or nits submitted to Harvard University experts by teachers, parents, nurses and physicians, two-thirds were found to be dandruff, dirt, scabs, hair spray droplets, other insects or eggs that were no longer viable or that had already hatched.

While the cold and flu viruses can quickly spread to a whole household or classroom, lice usually only spread to a few children. If there is a cold circulating at school, do you keep your child from going to school? Of course not, and yet your child is likely to catch it and in some cases this common cold may evolve into bronchitis or even pneumonia. Lice, for their part, will never involve a trip to the emergency room due to complications…

Are lice unpleasant? Yes, definitely. But are they a catastrophe? Not at all! If a member of your family has lice, visit your pharmacist, who will recommend a simple and effective treatment. But most of all, stay calm – they’re just lice!

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