Posts for: December, 2015
Two words parents dread hearing: head lice. Head lice are parasites that can be found on the heads of people, most common among preschool and elementary children. Each year millions of school-aged children in the U.S. get head lice. Though it may be a nuisance, the good news is that lice will not cause medical harm and in most cases can be effectively treated at home.
Lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person, especially in group settings, such as schools, sporting events and slumber parties. Head lice spread mainly by direct head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice, but it can also be transferred indirectly when kids share combs, brushes, pillows or hats. Because children play closely together and often in large groups, all children can potentially be affected, and poor personal hygiene is not a significant risk factor for getting head lice. In other words, if your child is exposed to someone with head lice, they have a pretty good chance of bringing it home as well.
Does your child have lice?
The most obvious sign of head lice is an itchy scalp. If you notice your child scratching behind his ears or at the back of his neck, examine the child’s head for signs of lice. Lice are very small, but it is possible to detect them with the naked eye. Combing through the child’s hair with a fine-toothed comb can help reveal any eggs. If you are unsure, visit your pediatrician. An itchy scalp may also be caused by an allergy, eczema or dandruff.
Don’t Panic—Head Lice is Very Treatable
If your child has head lice, take action immediately once you’ve made the diagnosis as lice can spread easily from one person to another, putting other members of your household at risk. The most common treatment is an over-the-counter or prescription cream, lotion, or shampoo. You apply it to the skin or scalp to kill the lice and eggs. In many cases, two treatments are necessary. If after two treatments you believe your child may still have head lice, contact your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can recommend a different form of treatment.
You may be tempted to throw away bedding, clothing or other items in your household, but a simple wash will do the trick. Toss your child’s bed sheets, clothes, hats and other belongings in the washing machine in hot water, and dry on high heat to kill any remaining lice. Other members of your household should also be checked for lice.
To prevent kids from getting lice or becoming re-infested, tell kids not to share combs, brushes, hats, or other personal items with anyone else. To prevent head lice, examine your child’s scalp regularly, especially during the school year, to detect lice early.
Remember, lice are very preventable and treatable. Be patient and follow the treatments and prevention tips as directed by your child’s pediatrician for keeping lice at bay and your household bug-free.
A hit to the head during a soccer game or a hard fall from skateboarding may result in a serious head injury and even a concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes a concussion as any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis. These injuries are typically caused by a blow to the head, most often occurring while playing contact sports such as football, hockey, soccer, wrestling or skateboarding.
For some children, concussions only last for a short while. Other times, a person can have symptoms of a concussion that last for several days or weeks following the injury. Not all symptoms of concussions will be obvious, and in some cases take several hours to set in. Look for these signs of a concussion if your child suffers a head injury:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory loss or confusion
- Poor concentration
- Vision problems
- Irritability or changes in mood
- Sensitivity to light or noise
Seek Medical Attention
If your child injures his head or you believe he may have a concussion, it is important that the child discontinues play immediately and visits a healthcare provider for an evaluation. All concussions are serious and should be monitored right away. A pediatrician can properly diagnose the concussion and its severity, and then make appropriate treatment recommendations.
Rest from all activities is the best treatment for concussions. Your pediatrician can make appropriate recommendations for when the child should return to future play. Recovery time depends on the child and the severity of the concussion.
Preventing Head Injuries
Not all head injuries can be avoided, but you can do a few important things to prevent them.
- Buckle Up. Make sure your child is properly buckled up in a seat belt, car seat or booster seat.
- Safety Gear. If your child plays sports, make sure he wears appropriate headgear and other safety equipment.
- Awareness. Children should be taught how to play safe and understand the importance of reporting any type of head injury to their parent or coach.
All head injuries should be taken seriously. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent serious complications. It’s never a bad idea to contact your pediatrician when you have questions or concerns about your child’s head injury.
With the arrival of flu season, many parents will be watching their children closely for symptoms of this dreaded virus. The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). The virus spreads easily in settings where many people are contained in close quarters such as schools and childcare, making children especially susceptible to the flu.
Often confused with the common cold, flu symptoms are typically more severe. The following symptoms are good indicators that your child has the flu:
- Rapid onset of fever (typically above 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Excessive tiredness, lack of energy and general weakness
- Muscle aches and chills
- Dry cough
- Stuffy, runny nose
Other symptoms that accompany the flu may include sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Remember, if your child comes down with the flu, keep them home from school or childcare for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. The flu is highly contagious and can infect other children and caregivers. It can spread by direct contact, such as drinking from the same cup or through indirect contact, such as when a classmate sneezes on his hand and then touches the door handle.
Flu Prevention Tips
Annual outbreaks of seasonal flu typically occur during the fall through the spring. Knowing how to identify flu symptoms and prevent the virus will help you protect your family from getting the flu. Here are just a few tips to keep the virus away from your household.
- Teach your children proper and consistent hand washing
- Avoid sharing cups, bottles, and other utensils
- Encourage your children to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading
- Practice the importance of coughing or sneezing into your arm or a tissue
To prevent seasonal influenza, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children receive the influenza vaccination every year starting at six months of age. Ask your pediatrician about flu vaccinations for your child.
When your child is experiencing the flu, extra rest and drinking plenty of fluids can help relieve symptoms. Typical recovery time for the flu is one or two weeks. Contact your pediatrician if your child’s fever persists, he or she develops a cough, or if he or she complains of ear pain. Flu is a serious illness that should be monitored closely.