For this Year's National Head Lice Prevention Campaign, the National Pediculosis Association Says CombFirst

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Comb out the lice and nits (lice eggs) when there are fewer of them and before the task becomes unnecessarily challenging.

NPA's suggested standard is proactive rather than reactive.

This year, the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) celebrates its 25th National Head Lice Prevention Campaign for back-to-school 2010-2011. The NPA is sending out a call-to-action: "Comb out the lice and nits when there are fewer of them and before the task becomes unnecessarily challenging." Parents need to know what to look for, how to make an accurate determination of lice and nits and understand the benefits of checking their children regularly.

What is the purpose of CombFirst?

Pediculosis is a communicable disease affecting children across the nation. The NPA wants communities to be informed, preventive and proactive. Checking children after school, childcare or camp is important, but nothing compares to parents checking them regularly at home so they can arrive to the group setting lice and nit free.

Dismissing children without having educated the parent population in advance makes a crisis when there needn't be one. CombFirst! emphasizes early intervention to protect children from unnecessary exposure to pesticides, sprays and other chemical lice control products. Some products are marketed without safety studies yet recommended for daily use.

Helpful trustworthy information about this important public health issue is available at where the NPA offers free downloads, tools, and videos on how to comb. There is also a section for KIDS to learn and play while parents check their hair.

Pediculosis leads to the use of pesticides.

Head lice are not benign. Pediculosis (medical term for lice infestation) leads to the use of pesticides. Children deserve thoughtful attention to this blood-obligate human parasite. Some insist that lice are unworthy of proactive efforts because they believe head lice are not a threat to health. Yet too often the health risks with pediculosis come with how we respond. Reports to NPA indicate that misuse and abuse of pesticides has become a health risk with pediculosis, just as controversy about the "No Nit Policy" has become a detriment to traditional communicable disease prevention measures.

Which No Nit Policy?

"No Nit Policies" vary widely from school to school. It is worrisome when a policy is only about sending children home to be treated. Too often parents get letters without education, warnings and without offering safer choices - especially for children already identified at higher risk to pesticides.

Children have unique vulnerabilities to pesticides and parents should understand potential risks before they rush to treat. The NPA, incorporated in 1983, stays the course with its mission because pesticides haven't gotten any safer and children aren't any less vulnerable to them.

NPA recommends head lice management measures that not only begin but focus mainly on education, community awareness and routine screening. NPA's suggested standard is proactive rather than reactive. It is written to avoid dismissals by giving parents every opportunity to send children to school lice and nit free.

Screen, Detect, Remove, Protect

With an effective combing tool in hand, NPA reports that early detection with thorough manual removal of lice and nits is the best alternative we know to pesticides and other chemicals -- especially since there is no totally safe and effective chemical treatment available.

Yet no matter what the method, the critical factor is combing out the lice and nits when there are fewer of them and before the task becomes unnecessarily challenging. The viability of lice and nits in the hair is irrelevant. Dead or alive, old or new - "if you don't get 'em out, you've still got 'em!"

Why August and September?

If head lice are a problem all year long, why September? September is designated as National Head Lice Prevention Month. Back-to-school signals a new beginning. Once again, parents need to understand the communicability of head lice before outbreaks occur. Armed with reasonable expectations, knowledge and effective tools, parents will be enabled to avoid the dreaded call from school when someone else was first to notice their child was infested. Families and classmates will avoid the disruption that occurs when there is no public health prevention standard in place.

Good News on Lice

And the news on head lice isn't always with controversy. A recent National Science Foundation article is very encouraging says Deborah Altschuler, NPA President. "These are exciting times as researchers use new technology to find better understanding of the head louse itself, and to develop safer treatment methods, such as the new LouseBusterâ„¢ device."

The American Academy of Pediatrics' new guidelines on lice show greater appreciation for just how important this issue is to family values and offers suggestions for combing. There is no need for panic or for children to miss school when parents are informed about the benefits of early detection and the fact that the lice are resistant to various treatments. Parents who screen regularly help protect all the children in the classroom when they send their children to school lice and nit free. Communities that promote head lice prevention programs demonstrate a commitment to family health and wellness.

Research validates combing:

In a recent editorial,, Altschuler reminded readers that "Combing is a scientifically reliable method to remove all lice and nits - which is another way to say it can end an infestation - literally.

Combing is the least expensive approach that accomplishes what chemicals cannot. It enables families to be self-reliant, proactive, and preventive. It allows for regular screening and early detection which makes the combing approach even more practical and realistic. While chemical treatments, pediculicides, and broad spectrum antibiotics develop resistance and potentially adverse health effects, nothing compares to the kindness of a comb."

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 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


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Deborah Altschuler

Julie Gallagher
MBox Communications
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