September is National Head Lice Prevention Month, Comb First! to Control Head Lice without Pesticides

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The National Pediculosis Association ® (NPA) kicks off another Comb First! campaign for back-to-school this September. The goal is to help families and communities control head lice without exposing themselves and their environment to pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

If you don’t get the lice and nits out of your hair, then you’ve still got them!

The non-profit National Pediculosis Association (NPA) has been the annual sponsor of National Head Lice Prevention Month since 1985. NPA initiated Comb First! to help communities safely manage head lice by teaching parents how to screen regularly, detect infestations early, remove all the lice and nits (lice eggs) with an effective combing tool, and most importantly protect children.

A part of its mission, the NPA developed the LiceMeister® comb in 1997, setting a new standard in nit removal combs and a non-chemical approach to manage pediculosis. NPA’s philosophy? “If you don’t get the lice and nits out of your hair, then you’ve still got them!”

Pediculosis is a communicable disease affecting children and families across the nation and around the world and the most widely used treatments are pesticides (pediculicides). No pesticide treatment is completely safe or effective and lice resistance to them is common. Screening for head lice and nits is a healthy hygiene measure and not just something to do when you hear of another infested child.

1.     Know how to identify lice and nits in advance of outbreaks. (See NPA’s Critter Card)

2.     Know how to check heads at home so kids can arrive to the group setting lice and nit free. (See NPA’s LiceMeister comb teaching video)

3.     Know your child's school policy on head lice. Policies vary greatly from school to school. Some parents are given advice to use a lice treatment without any warning that the treatment is a pesticide, with unfair expectations of its effectiveness and without any mention of the benefits of combing. Treatment failure, whatever the reason, leads to repeated pesticide exposures and children are especially vulnerable to the risks.

Parents who check their children regularly are first to know when their child is infested.

So Comb First!

NPA's website offers free educational resources and a public service announcement formatted for sharing, including videos with step-by-step instructions for combing and screening, available in English and Spanish.

Founded in 1983, the National Pediculosis Association®, Inc. (NPA) is a non-profit volunteer organization including scientific advisors dedicated to protecting children from the misuse and abuse of readily available over-the-counter and prescription pediculicides. Proceeds from the LiceMeister® comb allow the NPA to be self-sustaining and accomplish its mission to protect children.

NPA's President Deborah Altschuler points to the organization’s long-time commitment to promoting children's health: "Combing is the safest and most cost effective approach that accomplishes what chemicals cannot. It allows regular screening and early detection which makes the combing approach 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."

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Deborah Altschuler
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