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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Several children at my son's school have come down with head lice. Many of the children were allowed to return to school with nits in their hair. Is this normal, or are we just asking for trouble with lice all over again? Please let me know as soon as you can.

Beth Meyers

Tyrone, Pennsylvania

Dear Ms. Meyers:

All nits or lice eggs should be removed from the head. Those that aren't will likely hatch and spread. Family and classmates should be examined for head lice and, if found, treated. Continue to check family members for two weeks.

Lice need human blood to live. Itching occurs when they bite the scalp and inject a small amount of saliva to get the blood. However, lice can survive about 48 hours off their human host. The National Pediculosis Association (NPA) recommends vacuuming to remove lice or fallen hairs with attached nits from furniture, bedding, carpets, stuffed animals, car seats, and the like. Bedding and recently worn clothing should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Combs and brushes should be cleaned and soaked in very hot water.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Our son is allergic to peanuts. When he is away from home during the holidays, I worry that he might unknowingly eat peanuts in a food item and have a reaction. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

Anne Marie Nestor

Charlotte, North Carolina

Dear Ms. Nestor:

Unlike some other common food allergies, nut allergies usually are not outgrown. Although children allergic to peanuts and tree nuts are taught to question any treat before eating, it, accidental ingestion of nuts is still common. According to a research study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, of 122 children surveyed with a history of acute reactions to nuts, accidental ingestions occurred in 55 percent of peanut-allergic children and in 30 percent of tree nut-allergic children over a median period of five and a half years. Accidental poisoning occurred most often in school, but also at home and in restaurants through food sharing, hidden ingredients, and school craft projects using peanut butter. Reactions included skin, respiratory, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The study recommends that children with a known allergy to peanuts avoid tree nuts as well. An emergency plan for the rapid administration of prescribed medication, such as an EpiPen, must be in place to treat severely allergic children when they are away from home.


Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Information may be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to the National Pediculosis Association, P.O. Box 610189, Newton Highlands, MA 02161. Visit their Web site at
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Title Annotation:medical questions
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 1998
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