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Hatched lice are problem, not nits

Re: "Certified head hunter finds lucrative calling" (article about lice, July 17)

Hatched lice are problem, not nits

I would like to offer clarification on certain aspects presented in the nitpicking article. Perhaps most important is that the presence of nits do not necessarily signify current head lice infestation. The nits (egg casings) are initially deposited about one-eighth of an inch from the scalp. Within about a week, the insect has hatched from the nit and only the casing is left. The empty nit casings will remain on the hair shaft as it grows, and combing them out is simply removing material that is no longer infective. The 'no nit' policy has never been shown to be effective in reducing head lice transmission and is not supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Treatment should be directed toward the killing of the 'hatched' head lice. Current over-the-counter medications may not always be effective, but there are other treatments available that will eradicate the lice. While there are low risks for potential side effects with these medications, only the killing of hatched lice will eliminate the infestation. Nit picking is primarily a cosmetic procedure: children should not be quarantined or isolated simply because they have nits.

Parents should contact their child's physician for complete professional advice.

Charles Welborn, medical director, After Hours Pediatrics, Urgent Care

Hatched lice are problem, not nits 07/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:30am]
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