The Lowdown on Head Lice

photolibrary_rm_photo_of_boy_scratching_headWith cold weather approaching, hats and mittens will soon become staples in everyone’s wardrobes.

Who Can Get Head Lice?

Head Lice do not discriminate, and anyone (yes, anyone) is at a risk of being infected. Children are at a much higher risk of contracting head lice than their adult counterparts.

It is a common misconception that Head Lice can fly or jump. In fact, the insects can do neither. Head Lice move entirely by crawling.

Head lice cab be spread via direct contact with an infected person’s hair.

  • Children often hug one another and literally “put their heads together.” Something as simple as whispering in someone’s ear is close enough contact for lice to crawl from one head to another.
  • You probably can’t completely prevent this—nor would many parents actually want to. Just be cautious of any child who is scratching his or her head constantly or who complains of an itchy head, and follow up with the school nurse or the child’s parents.

Head lice can also be spread through indirect contact with personal items that an infected person has used

  • Hats, scarves, helmets, and caps shouldn’t be shared. Even shared lockers or coat racks have been associated with spreading head lice.
  • Make sure your child has his or her own “personal” comb or brush.
  • Also, make sure your child uses her own hair ties, barrettes, scrunchies, and hair pins and doesn’t borrow these from other children. Be very open and honest with kids—they don’t want head lice any more than you do.
  • If your child is involved in a sport, make sure he or she has his or her own gear, and keep track of it. At the pool or gym, make sure your child has his or her own towels and other personal items.

Prevent Head Lice from Spreading

After learning about and removing the presence of Head Lice in your home, you may feel compelled to disinfect your house with insecticides. The use of insecticides is unnecessary, despite what you may have heard. Without a human host, head lice are unable to survive more than 24-48 hours after removal from a human. Lice are considered “obligate parasites,” which means that their life span is extremely limited without a human host. Save your money (and lungs) by not purchasing insecticides that are often harmful when sprayed indoors.

Keep Them Away!

After your child’s head has been treated for lice, and the nits (lice eggs found on the shaft of a hair follicle) are removed, here are some recommended steps to keep the head lice away for good:

  • All the bedding, linens, clothing, and accessories (hats, mittens, coats, scarves) in the household should be changed and washed in a hot water cycle (1400 F)
  • Once the wash cycle has completed, dry them with high heat for at least 30 minutes;
  • For items that are not machine washable, drop them off at a local dry cleaner. Make sure to inform the staff about the reason the items require dry cleaning to ensure that they can take extra precautions;
  • Thoroughly vacuum any surfaces that may have contacted anyone’s heads. This includes all chairs, couches, headboards, and carpeted areas;
  • Soak anything that has come into contact with hair in 10 percent bleach or Lysol for one hour. This includes clips, barrettes, combs, brushes, and hair ties. You can also heat them in water—as close to boiling as possible. If it’s feasible financially,

Learn More About Head Lice Prevention Today

For more information and handouts on head lice prevention and removal, come to the Onyx Urgent Care clinic located at 580 Lancaster St. West, Kitchener, ON. Our hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 6pm-11pm and Saturday’s from 4pm-9pm. For regular health tips, follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page.

STI Testing: An Important Decision



STI Testing: What you Need to Know

If you’re sexually active, you’ve probably heard this many times before- you should be using protection and getting regularly tested for STI’s. But what exactly is an STI? And more importantly, why get tested for it?

STI’s are sexually transmitted diseases, more commonly referred to as sexually transmitted infections; you’re able to contract the infection without showing any symptoms. There are several kinds of STI’s, each with different characteristics and potential symptoms, but they’ve all got one thing in common–engaging in unprotected sexual relations transmits them.

Why Test for an STI?

You should test for STI’s if you regularly engage in sexual activity with multiple partners, or when starting a new relationship. It’s important to keep yourself and your partner(s) sexually safe and aware of any potential infections. In some cases, detecting an STI at an early stage can assist in its quicker treatment, and prevent additional infections from appearing.

Common Symptoms

For women, some STI symptoms may include unusual discharge, a burning sensation during urination, discomfort or pain during sex, itching in the vagina, unusual vaginal bumps or a rash, as well as an abnormally heavy period.
Men may experience several symptoms similar to those listed above. These may include pain or burning during urination, pain or discomfort during sex, unusual bumps or a rash, and itching, as well as bleeding or an unpleasant-smelling discharge from the penis.
Keep in mind that neither of these symptoms necessarily indicates an STI. Your body may be sending you different signals to warn you of different reasons for distress; get an STI test to rule-out unlikely infections if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above.

STI Testing: Who Should Get It?

If you’re sexually active, it’s generally recommended to get screened for STI’s once a year– even if no symptoms are experienced. STI’s can be transmitted through oral, anal, and vaginal sex, which makes both men and women susceptible to contracting an infection. If you’re sexually active with multiple partners- you should watch carefully for general symptoms, and consider getting tested more often.

Are you positive you’re negative?

The only way to know if you’ve contracted an STI is to get tested; STI testing is quick and easy.  Most infections are detected through a simple blood test, swab, or even a urine sample. Don’t be afraid to let your doctor know of any questions and concerns you may have during your screening.
You can also visit us at the ONYX Urgent Care Clinic to obtain your free STI testing today; we operate after-hours on weekdays for your convenience. For our hours of operation, contact information, and additional information on STI’s- connect with us on Facebook and  follow us on Twitter.