SCHOOL'S back, and as the kids get their heads together it's likely you'll have some uninvited guests come home for a sleep-over ? the dreaded head lice.
Anyone with a head can catch them ? regardless of age, sex, background or how clean your hair is.
And it takes only one infested head to infest a whole class.
Local pharmacists have reported a large number of scratching parents on the hunt for treatments, suggesting head lice is again on the move on the Coffs Coast.
It will come as no surprise to many parents that, according to NSW Health, head lice infestations in our children appear to be on the increase.
The reasons for this increase are not clear, though there is recent evidence from research in Queensland schools that some head lice are resistant to the common chemical head lice treatments available.
Unfortunately, the management and treatment of head lice is surrounded by a large amount of misinformation and myth, particularly about their habits and what is and isn't an effective treatment.
Much of the misunderstanding, stigma and blame about head lice have come about because many people do not know how head lice grow and are spread from head to head.
Head lice move between heads via a hair; they grasp a hair from another head by swinging between heads on a hair shaft.
Their grasp is very strong which makes them hard to dislodge from the scalp and hair.
They cannot survive off the human head for any length of time. Depending on the tem- perature and humidity levels, healthy adult lice can survive for only a few hours off the head.
Therefore, spring cleaning your home, washing bedding and toys and rigorous vacuum cleaning do not affect the head lice population.
They do not crawl along furniture or hop between car seats.
Focusing on the environment does not reduce head lice, merely takes up time that could be spent combing the head.
Research in NSW and Queensland has shown that head lice incidence is greatest in primary school children and peaks in girls in middle years of primary school.