Notice any excessive head scratching? Head Lice (the insects) and Nits (the eggs) spread easily through schools and it’s a good idea to check your child’s head before they go back to school for the year and then regularly throughout the term.
• Use a bright light or torch and look at the hairs behind the ears, at the nape of the neck, or at the base of a pony tail. New eggs are usually found close to the scalp. They are small and hard – like a grain of salt – and are usually yellow white to brown in colour. Unlike dandruff, nits are firmly attached to the hair and hard to remove. Older, hatched eggs are usually transparent and found further from the scalp.
Head lice are brown or grey in colour and approximately 2 – 4 mm long. If you part the hairs on the scalp you may see them quickly crawl away to a more hidden area. It may be easier to see head lice if you apply conditioner to dry hair, wait ten minutes, then comb through with a metal nit comb, wiping the excess on a tissue. The dark lice are easily visible against the white tissue. This technique is called “wet combing”. You can find nit combs and head lice treatments if needed at your local Unichem Pharmacy.
Schools and Day Care environments are the ideal breeding for threadworms. These long slender round worms are spread when children scratch their bottom and carry the worm eggs back to their mouth. They can also be spread by touching an infected surface.
The most obvious sign of threadworms is an itchy bottom, especially at night, but only one third of children will itch. Keep an eye out for:
· Decreased appetite
· Restlessness or disturbed sleep
· Teeth grinding
A visual check can also help identify threadworms. They will look like white cotton thread around your child’s anus and be about 5 - 10mm in length. The best time to check is at night when threadworms come out to lay eggs. You might find a torch helpful as they can be difficult to see. You might also see threadworms on a bowel motion or on the toilet paper after wiping.
You do not actually have to see the threadworms before seeking treatment. If you suspect your child has threadworms or you know it’s going around the school, talk to your Unichem Pharmacist who can help you choose the right treatment option..
The best way to prevent your child from getting threadworms is to make sure they always wash their hands:
· After going to the toilet
· After touching objects that others have touched
· Before preparing and eating food
Why not put a small container of sanitising hand gel or wipes in your child’s school bag so they can easily wash their hands before eating.
Kids love being outside and the start of the school year coincides with some of the sunniest days. Exposure to New Zealand sun can be harmful, even when it’s cloudy if appropriate precautions aren’t taken.
Encourage your kids to be Sun Smart at school:
• Slip on sun protective clothing
• Slop on a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen. (Encourage the kids to do this after breakfast, before they head off to school)
• Slap on a sun hat with a wide brim
• Wrap on a pair of wrap around sunnies.
Why not pop a small tube of SPF30+ sunscreen in your child’s lunchbox to remind them to apply it?
Ideally kids should get adequate vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet. If you are a parent of a fussy eater, particularly physically active child or children who eat a lot of fast foods, convenience or highly processed foods you may want to consider vitamins or supplements specifically designed for children. Have a chat to your local Unichem Pharmacist about Vitamins or Supplements that may be suitable for your child.