Among recommendations and findings of Licebusters (the National Pediculosis Association): Schools and day care centers should check for lice "right away" -- at the beginning of the school year. Removal of nits (eggs) is essential. Children should not be allowed back into school until all nits are removed. The Innomed comb -- with built-in magnifying glass -- is believed to be the most effective. Rugs and furniture should be vacuumed to pick up hairs with nits clinging to them. Don't use pesticidal sprays. "We hear of too many mothers spraying their children and cribs," says Deborah Altschuler. Launder all bedding and clothes, including hats and coats, in hot water and a hot dryer, or dry clean them. Itching is caused initially by the bite of the louse, but the lice-killing preparations also cause itching. Don't reapply them just because a child's head itches. Pesticide-based shampoos and lotions should not be used on infants and should be treated with respect. Both lindane and pyrethrin are "contact poisons -- absorbed through the skin," says Massachusetts entomologist John Edman. But according to University of Miami medical school professor David Taplin and others, "They're safe if used properly."
Through efforts of the Massachusetts-based organization, a resolution on proper drug labeling was passed by the 1984 U.S. Conference of Mayors and forwarded to the U.S. Congress for study. The resolution calls for, in part, pharmaceutical manufacturers to "adopt clear and responsible labeling instructions" that advise users of hazards to children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. RESOURCES
National Pediculosis Association, P.O. Box 149, Newton, Mass. 02161. Hotline: (617) 449-NITS. Prevention packet and poster, $5. Also available in Spanish and Vietnamese. To request translations of lice information in other languages, write: Ann Nowak, 18925 Kilt Terrace, Olney, Md. 20832. 13-minute videotape, "Life That Lives Upon Us: Head Lice," produced for parents and teachers, available for a fee. Prof. David Taplin, University of Miami School of Medicine, P.O. Box 016960, R-117, Miami, Fla. 33101.