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Head Lice Crawl into White Plains Schools

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Charles Coppola has two daughters enrolled at Church Street Elementary School and said he's not worried about the few cases of head lice reported at local schools.

"They can get it pretty easily. But, I'm not overly concerned about it, especially now that I know what works," said Coppola, a holistic chiropractor who helped rid his first grader, Julianna, and third grader, Elaina, fight head lice last school year.

Carcinogens in many shampoos and other head lice remedies inspired Coppola to try herbal alternatives, which he didn't have much success with. Then he remembered that "alcohol kills everything," and concocted a homemade solution.

"I mixed 91 percent isopropyl alcohol with baking soda and had her go in the shower, put a towel over her eyes, tilt her head back and doused her head with it. We put a shower cap on for half an hour and washed it out. That was it," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that six to 12 million head lice infestations occur each year in the United States among children age three to 11.

Brenda Madera, the White Plains Public School District's nurse coordinator, said a "couple" students have had head lice this fall, but not as many as in previous years.

"People are pretty aware and the nurse staff are very astute," said Madera. "If a teacher notices somebody is scratching, they can send them to the nurse and the nurse will then check the whole classroom."

White Plains Public School District has a no-nit policy, barring students with lice eggs from class until they get rid of the pests. If a student has lice, nurses talk to his or her classmates about how to prevent head lice from spreading and send a notice home to classmates' parents. Madera also provides families with written instructions on how to fight head lice.

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