Comb First! A Call to Action for September's 2010 National Head Lice Prevention Month

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NPA's Comb First! campaign focuses on helping parents understand the importance of lice and nit removal and teaching them how to comb. http://headlice.org/video/index.php. Children deserve thoughtful attention and protection from these blood-obligate human parasites. The most serious health risks of head lice come with how we respond to them.

Combing accomplishes what chemicals cannot. It enables families to be self-reliant, proactive, and preventive.

Altschuler says, "Head lice are more than a nuisance for the people who have them."

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The National Pediculosis Association (NPA), 25th annual sponsor of National Head Lice Prevention Month, says Comb First! Comb out the lice and nits (lice eggs) when there are fewer of them and before the task becomes unnecessarily challenging.

NPA's Comb First! campaign is focused on helping parents understand the importance of lice and nit removal and teaching them how to comb. http://headlice.org/video/index.php.

Comb First! emphasizes education and early intervention to protect children from unnecessary exposure to pesticides. Parents can avoid the difficulties of head lice by knowing what to look for, checking their children regularly, making an accurate determination of lice and nits and getting them out of the hair safely and effectively.

Checking children after school, childcare or camp is important, but nothing compares to parents checking the family regularly at home so kids can arrive to the group setting lice and nit free.

Pediculosis is an endemic communicable disease affecting children across the nation. Many of the treatments for lice contain potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides. NPA reports that parents are getting mixed messages on this health issue.

Head lice can be an undeniable crisis for a family. Too often parents receive advice that's counterintuitive to parenting. They are told they needn't be concerned about bugs in their child's hair because head lice are just a nuisance. Some health officials have abandoned even the most basic rules of healthy hygiene and grooming.    And management procedures can vary greatly from school to school. It is worrisome when a policy is only about sending children home to be treated with a pesticidal product. Too often parents get letters without education, without warnings about risks from treatments and without notice that safer choices are available...

With an effective combing tool in hand, NPA reports that early detection with thorough manual removal of lice and nits is still the best response, especially since there is no totally safe and effective chemical treatment available.

According to NPA president Deborah Altschuler, "Head lice are more than a nuisance for the people who have them." Pediculosis often leads to panic and the use of pesticides. This makes head lice a serious health issue for children and entire families. Children deserve thoughtful attention and protection from this blood-obligate human parasite. Too often the health risks of lice come with how we respond to them.

Reports to NPA http://www.headlice.org/report/index.htm indicate that risky misuse and abuse of pesticides for lice is not only common but predictable. The Comb First! campaign wants parents to have a good understanding of the issues before they rush to treat. Children have unique vulnerabilities and parents need help understanding exactly what they can expect in effectiveness from treatments for lice along with the potential health risks. http://www.headlice.org/downloads/whynonchem.htm.

NPA's "No Nit Policy" recommendation, unlike what's often described as "No Nit Policies" in the media, is about prevention rather than treatment. It puts education, prevention and safety first and before outbreaks occur. NPA's recommendation is written to help avoid dismissals by giving parents every opportunity to send children to school lice and nit free. You can read it here: http://www.headlice.org/downloads/nonitpolicy.htm

NPA hopes health professionals, schools, child care centers and parents will participate in CombFirst! and visit http://www.headlice.org. Here they will find educational materials and the Comb First! Logo to share, download and post on local websites and social networks. http://headlice.org/downloads/download.html.

NPA also offers a public service announcement formatted for sharing along with teaching videos (English and Spanish) for step by step instruction on how to screen and comb. http://headlice.org/video/index.php.

This September kicks off the Comb First! campaign to last the whole year long. Parents enabled with reasonable expectations, knowledge and effective tools will be the first to comb and the first to know when their child is infested.

About the National Pediculosis Association
Founded in 1983, the National Pediculosis Association, Inc. (NPA) is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to protecting children from the misuse and abuse of potentially harmful lice and scabies pesticide treatments. The NPA encourages proactive standardized head lice management programs in an effort to keep children in school lice and nit free. As part of its mission, the NPA developed the LiceMeister® comb and makes it available on its website http://www.headlice.org. Proceeds from the comb allow the NPA to maintain independence from product manufacturers and stay loyal to its goal to protect children. For additional information, please visit http://www.headlice.org.

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