Local pharmacists urge parents to screen children for head lice

Local pharmacists are urging parents to screen children for head lice every week when they return to school. Mullingar pharmacists Eamonn Brady from Whelehans Pharmacy and Niall Weir from Weirs Pharmacy advise early detection to reduce the spread of the infection and the scale of outbreaks. There is no way of preventing head lice but the earlier their presence is detected, the easier it is to get rid of them.

Eamonn says, “While lice aren’t dangerous, they are extremely contagious and their bites may cause the scalp to become itchy and inflamed. Persistent scratching may lead to skin irritation and, potentially, even infection so it is important to treat head lice quickly.”

Infestations are most common in children aged 4-11 and most children will get them at least once. A child who is infected will usually complain about constant scratching, which can lead to disturbed sleep and associated problems. Niall says “Head lice are extremely common and are an age-old pest. Parents often wonder why their children have picked up the head lice, but both lice combs and the remains of mummified lice have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years.”

To prevent and treat head lice infestation:

Wet comb your child’s hair every week to search for nits/lice. Lice combs are inexpensive and available in pharmacies.

Tie up long hair in a ponytail to avoid it coming into contact with other hair that might be infected.

When necessary, treat the hair as soon as possible, but only if live lice or unhatched eggs are present. Ask your pharmacist about the most appropriate treatment option. Never treat a child as a preventative measure – it isn’t effective.

Inform the school, their friends, and other contacts immediately if your child is infected.

Keep calm and ensure the experience is not distressing for the child.

“Children of all ages are vulnerable to pesticides, especially children who suffer from asthma and allergies or who have a pre-existing skin condition. Your local pharmacist can advise on the most suitable treatment for your child. No appointment is required; call in today,” say Eamonn and Niall.

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