Important lessons for school

By Times Staff
Published August 29, 2006

Here is the back-to-school issue of Healthline.

Headlice 101: What to do

Lice, which are only about the size of a sesame seed as adults, affect an estimated 10 percent of all non-black schoolchildren, and less than half a percent of their black classmates. According to the Web site www.headlice.org, no over-the-counter or prescription treatments have been proved both totally safe and totally effective against lice and their eggs, called nits. Care must be taken with these treatments because they contain potentially harmful pesticides. Further, bathing the infected hair with "natural" remedies such as olive oil, mayonnaise and vinegar has not proved to be effective. Removal of lice and nits by thorough combing is necessary for any treatment. Children should be warned against sharing with other kids a comb or brush, sporting equipment, headphones, pillows or hair ties.

Germs in the clarinet?

Bacteria that can cause bronchitis, sinusitis and strep throat can thrive on and inside wind instruments (flutes, clarinets, trombones, recorders, etc.) for weeks. Just cleaning the mouthpiece may not be sufficient, so students who borrow or rent such instruments can be exposing themselves to illness. But Dr. Lorenzo Lepore, a dentist who is also a musician, has created a treatment to sterilize wind instruments without damaging them. The service utilizes the same sterilization process, a gas, used to treat medical and dental instruments. The process, available to schools and music dealers, will be available to consumers this fall. For more information, visit www.maestromd.com.

The careful (student) consumer

Consumer Reports has melded topics to create a Web site loaded with tips for young shoppers, including schoolkids. Among the subjects: how to be safe while online, the best SAT prep courses, dorm room safety, and teens and sleep. There are tips on buying computers (with a battery alert), cell phones, MP3 players, backpacks, even used cars. Go to www.consumerreports.org/cro/personal-finance/computers/back-to-school-guide/index.htm.