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Head Lice Prevention Month

Teaching kids to speak up.

Renee Veksler • For Pacific Sunday News • August 10, 2008

As we draw nearer to September, which is Head Lice Prevention Month, and the school year begins, remember to screen your children's hair now and weekly for head lice. Encourage your children to come to you if they feel itchy and tell them that checking for lice is nothing to be shy about. Remind your children to use their own equipment such as baseball caps, helmets and headphones instead of sharing these items.

The slogan of the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) is 'All Out Comb Out.' Head lice can be removed in a safe and careful manner. The LiceMeister comb can be ordered from the NPA website to be put into the family medicine cabinet.

The NPA is dedicated to protecting children and caregivers from the misuse of potentially harmful lice pesticidal treatments. Please see the checklist on their site to determine if a non-chemical approach is the best choice for your family. The overuse of lice products can predispose a person to adverse reactions, even with just one additional chemical exposure. Before purchasing lice shampoo, consult with your pharmacist or physician, especially if the person involved is pregnant, nursing, has allergies, asthma, epilepsy, or has pre-existing medical conditions.

There are many educational materials on the www.headlice.org website. A fun teaching tool made especially for children and their parents is the NPA's 'Latest Greatest Coloring Book about Lice.'

Reye's Syndrome Awareness Month
Talk to your teens about Reye's Syndrome, because the use of aspirin or medications containing aspirin to treat the symptoms of viral illnesses increases the chance of developing this syndrome.

Review labels on cold and pain medicines, facial cleansers, sunscreens and lotions with your kids so they can learn to be on the look out for products containing aspirin.

Reye's syndrome can occur when someone is recovering from a viral illness or develop 3 to 5 days after the onset of an illness. Usually, it appears after a flu-like illness, upper respiratory infection, or chicken pox. It is a frightening, swift-acting disease so early diagnosis is vital!

Some early signs to look out for are continuous vomiting, loss of energy, aggressiveness, confusion and irrational behavior. Do not give your child aspirin or anti-nausea medicine. If you notice any unusual symptoms call your doctor immediately or call the emergency room.

The disease's main targets are the liver and brain. An abnormal liver test strongly suggests a diagnosis of Reye's Syndrome. Also there may be elevations in the blood ammonia level.

See the www.reyessyndrome.org website for a list of medications and topical products containing aspirin. Medication labels may use other words like salicylic, acetylsalicylate, etc. instead of the word aspirin. You may be surprised to find that some over-the-counter products such as Maalox and Pepto-Bismol contain aspirin.

Check labels of topical products for forms of salicylates as certain ingredients may be absorbed through the skin and also pose a potential risk. Some examples from the list are Clean & Clear Overnight Acne Patches, Mary Kay Sun Essentials Ultimate Protection Sunblock, and Bayer Muscle & Joint Cream.

Help your teens become aware of the dangers of aspirin. Then they will make better choices if they find the need to take medication for pain.

Renee Veksler is a Guam Memorial Hospital Health Educator and a community partner with the Get Healthy Guam Coalition. Cintact her at 647-2351.