Head lice: The idea alone is enough to make your scalp itch. Each year, there are 6 million to 12 million lice cases in U.S. children ages 3 to 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a year-round scourge, although the number of cases seems to peak when kids go back to school in the fall and again in January, possibly due to familial mingling during the holidays.
The American Association of Pediatrics suggests that kids with lice stay in school: “Because a child with an active head lice infestation likely has had the infestation for 1 month or more by the time it is discovered and poses little risk to others from the infestation,” its guidelines say, “he or she should remain in class but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others.”
It doesn’t help that there’s such confusion about how the little beasts operate. See Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Family section for common myths about lice.