What's Going Around: Head lice, stomach problems - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

What's Going Around: Head lice, stomach problems

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Stomach problems continue to be an issue in southern Wisconsin, but a Madison doctor is seeing more head lice lately.

Dr. Michael Trias with SSM Health's Madison East Clinic says lice is very common in school-aged children and kids don't get it because of poor hygiene. Lice can attach to anyone's hair, clean or dirty. Dr. Trias says while it can be annoying, head lice is not a health hazard or responsible for the spread of any disease.

The bugs are about the size of a sesame seed and are usually pale and gray. They lay eggs, which are called nits. The nits are oval, white or yellow, and about the size of a knot in thread. Some nits can blend into the color of people's hair. You might think it's dandruff at first, but the nits attach to the hair shaft and don't come off easily. 

Dr. Trias says lice is spread mostly from head to head contact. Lice crawl; they do not jump or fly. While there is a small chance you can get lice from inanimate objects, that's not common. It's also not common to get lice from sharing combs, brushes or hats. Still, Dr. Trias recommends teaching children not to share those things.

If you notice your child itching their head a lot, they may have lice. But the itching may take up to four to six weeks to develop after they already have it. Dr. Trias says most of the itching happens behind the ears or on the back of the head near the neck.

If you suspect your child has lice, you should check by first seating them in a brightly lit room. Part the hair and look for crawling lice or nits one section at a time. (The video above shows what lice and nits look like.)

Dr. Trias says live lice can be hard to find because they move quickly to avoid light. 

Once you diagnosis lice, Dr. Trias recommends over the counter medications like RID or NIX. Lice are becoming increasingly resistant to these treatments, though, so parents may have a hard time getting rid of them all. See a doctor if you need help.

Parents should also use a fine toothed comb (a nit comb) every couple of days for the next several weeks to manually remove lice and nits. Dr. Trias also recommends washing a child's clothes, towels, hats and bed linens in hot water and with dry heat. He says you can change the bed linens and pillow cases every night for about a week after treatment and any items that can't be washed should be placed in plastic bags for two weeks.

For persistent problems, there are also some professional clinics and doctors who do lice treatment.

The latest American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on head lice say routine screening at school is no longer necessary. But you should check everyone at home if a child comes home with lice. You should also treat anyone who shares a bed with the child.

The AAP says children shouldn't be required to go home the day lice are found because the child likely had the infestation for at least a month before it was discovered. He or she should remain in class, but be discouraged from direct head contact with others.

Schools and daycares should also keep the child confident, but notify parents or guardians right away. The AAP says children shouldn't be excluded from school based on nits alone. "No-nit" policies should have gone away from schools after its 2010 guidelines, the AAP says.

If you want a closer look at the guidelines, Dr. Trias provided this link: AAP Guidance for Head Lice

As we mentioned, a lot of people are dealing with stomach issues lately. Dr. Alicia Plummer with SSM Health's Madison West Clinic says she's seeing a lot of abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. She recommends increasing fluids, rest and avoiding sugary drinks and dairy (other than yogurt). 

If you have a fever, blood or mucous in your stool, have not urinated in 10-12 hours, or your symptoms last longer than two weeks, see a doctor. Dr. Plummer says also consider a probiotic to help with diarrhea.

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