It’s the time of year when hats covering itchy little heads come off at home and parents are greeted with head lice.
Last week, a slew of local elementary schools reported head lice infestations in the hair of
students, according to Ramsay School nurse Karen Maloughney.
Maloughney added that Ramsay was far from the only local elementary school to have infestations of the sesame-seed-sized parasites that live in human hair and feed on their host’s blood.
As a result, Maloughney held a “Lice 101” presentation educating parents about how to prevent lice and how to get rid of them once they’ve made an appearance.
She said in her years working as a school nurse and with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department, she’s seen lice make a yearly appearance every month between October and April. Since lice aren’t considered a communicable disease, Maloughney said it’s tough to pin down exact numbers of how many students have them. But it’s common to see them district-wide.
“It seems like every year, every school gets them,” Maloughney said. “It’s kind of a constant revolving door.”
In addition, Maloughney said she tried to dispel commonly circulated rumors about lice.
For example, the creatures don’t come from dogs or other pets — they only thrive in human hair — so don’t get rid of your pets, as she’s seen families do.
And contrary to popular belief, lice don’t favor dirty people. They’re content on just about any head.
The little critters aren’t known to carry disease, and they don’t jump or fly, so they’re only spread through direct head-to-head contact or by sharing hats, scarves and other items that touch the head. Their bites cause itching.
“They are more a nuisance than anything,” Maloughney said.
Over-the-counter lice-killing shampoo products can be purchased at stores, and parents can obtain a prescription for medicated shampoo from pediatricians.
Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@ mtstandard.com or Twitter.com/Piper_Haugan.