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Pound Ridge Elementary Talk Targets Lice Stigma

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Lynn Borsellino calls herself a “lice aficionado.” Ever since her kids were inflicted with the pesky little bugs a few years ago, the Pound Ridge Elementary School PTA member has made it her mission to learn more about lice and pass on the info.

“When my kids got them, I freaked out,” Borsellino said. “I looked for a way to get rid of them in a non-toxic fashion.”

In effort to educate Pound Ridge Elementary parents on the truths and myths about lice and how to combat them, the PTA held a lecture last week called "How to Prevent Getting Head Lice and What to Do If You Get It.”

“This is something that affects all the schools in the area,” said Colette Dow, PTA co-president. “We are trying to educate people about ways to prevent the start and spread of it and about the need to remove the inappropriate stigma around it.”

The lecture was presented by Melissa Gordon, owner of the Westchester County-based company Happy Heads. Gordon started the business when her children came down with lice, which inspired her to develop a non-toxic formula to get rid of them.

One of the most common lice myths is that they’re attracted to dirty hair. “They actually like clean hair because they feed off the scalp,” Borsellino said. “There’s a stigma that if you have lice, you’re dirty. That’s not true.”

Borsellino said no schools are immune to lice and the more parents know about it, the more they’ll be able to keep them at bay. “Summer camp can be horrendous,” she said. “The kids come back and have sleepovers and, well, if they have lice it’s going to get passed on.”

The key, she said, is to treat the scalp in the early stages of the infestation – before the lice lay eggs. One of the most common household remedies is to apply mayonnaise to the scalp. Borsellino said while that may kill the adult lice, it won’t affect the eggs, which will hatch.

Another tip Gordon offered is to make sure kids’ pillows are lice-free. To do that, place the pillows in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes. Also, she recommends washing all combs and brushes by soaking them in boiling water for about 20 minutes.

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