How to Prevent and Identify Head Lice

Hooray, it’s back to school season! Your children may have attended in-person classes the past year or this may be their first time returning to the classroom at all. Either way, back together in school unfortunately means one unwelcome nuisance has the potential to show up too—head lice. Know the causes, signs, and how to treat an infestation so your child won’t miss out on any more in-person learning.

What are lice?

Lice are small parasites spread by close human to human contact. They are brown in color and are the approximate size of a sesame seed. Lice are highly contagious nuisance and can cause severe discomfort among children and adults.

The most reported symptoms are:

  • Relentless itching
  • A tickling or crawling feeling on your head, hair or body
  • Red bumps and/or sores that develop from scratching
  • Irritability and/or difficulty sleeping

 

Where can I contract lice?

Lice can be found in your hair or on your body. All lice are spread from being in close contact with another person who is infected. Be cautious in these situations:

  • At schools, daycares, playdates
  • During sports practices/games, other activities with close contact
  • Sharing clothing such as hats and jackets
  • Sharing hairbrushes, hair clips/ties, headbands, etc.

How do I know if I (or my children) have lice?

If you’re suffering from uncomfortable itchiness, it could be caused by skin conditions such as dandruff, eczema, allergies, or reactions to certain skin products. However, it may be best to check for lice as they are highly contagious especially if you have school-aged children.

Follow these steps to check for lice:

  1. Wet your hair/your child’s hair. This slows down lice so they’re easier to spot.
  2. Using a fine-tooth comb, part the hair. Lice combs can be found online and in pharmacies but are not necessary.
  3. Shine a bright light onto scalp. If you see tiny, brown insects moving or nits (eggs) fixed onto individual hair strands, you should seek a lice treatment immediately.
  4. If unsure, see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

 

How do I treat a lice infestation?

If you’re certain that you or your child has lice, it’s best to act right away. There are over the counter (OTC) shampoos and treatment kits to help with eradicating lice. There are also medicated lotions and shampoos that are prescribed by a doctor.

In addition to treating lice at the source, it’s also important to do the following:

  • Launder bedding and clothes worn in the two days before treatment
    • Wash with hot water and use a high-heat dry cycle
  • Wash backpacks, hats, jackets—anything that may have had contact with lice
  • Place sofa cushions or car seats into a plastic bag. Don’t touch for two weeks.
    • Lice will die within 1-2 days without human contact
  • Sanitize brushes and combs
    • submerge in a pot of hot water for up to ten minutes
  • Vacuum the floors in your home
    • Lice cannot survive without human contact or in a cooler temperature

 

Facts about lice:

It’s no surprise that there is a stigma associated with lice. However, it’s important to be armed with the facts.

  • Lice are not a sign of poor hygiene
  • Head lice do not carry viral or bacterial diseases
  • Lice do not go away on their own
  • Lice cannot “jump” from one person to another (they only crawl)
  • Treatments such as smearing mayonnaise, butter, olive oil or margarine into hair and scalp will NOT eradicate head lice
  • You do not need to fumigate or use harmful chemicals to clean your home.

To prevent a possible lice infestation, tell your children not to share clothing or personal items, be aware of any symptoms, and have a plan to quickly act if someone in your household accidentally contracts lice. Although it may be a headache to treat and clean, contracting lice is quite common and highly treatable.

 

How to Be Fire Safe This Summer

The summer season is in full swing and with it comes grilling, campfires and fireworks. Whether you’re in your backyard, at a friend’s house, or at a campsite, be sure to follow your local fire safety guidelines.

Cooking and Grilling

If you’re cooking inside your kitchen or outside on your grill, it’s important to be vigilant and to always cook safely.

  • Never leave anything that is cooking unattended. If you need to leave for any reason, always turn off the heat.
  • Use appropriate heating source. Use propane for a gas grill, charcoal briquettes for a charcoal grill, and wood logs for cooking over a firepit. Do not use fire starter logs or mix and match heat sources.
  • Be alert. Never cook or grill when exhausted, intoxicated or distracted.


Campfires

A cozy campfire is iconic to summer adventures. Maintain fun by keeping flames contained to prevent them from spreading.

  • Check conditions. Always check weather, wind, and fire conditions before lighting any fire. Note: Local ordinances may also require a permit.
  • Supervise children and pets. Do not leave them unattended near a campfire for any reason—ever.
  • Properly extinguish a campfire.Never leave the fire site without extinguishing flames first. Have a fire extinguisher, shovel with sand/dirt, and plenty of water nearby.
    • Drown your flames with water and stir with a shovel to make sure all materials and embers are wet.
    • Add more water if needed and stir again.
    • Repeat until everything in fire pit is wet and cold to the touch.
    • Pour sand/dirt over fire if flames get out of control.

 

Fireworks and Sparklers

Fireworks and sparklers are quintessential summer fun, but they are hazardous. When not properly managed, fireworks and their debris can cause sparks which can result in an unwanted fire or injury.

When it comes to fireworks:

  • Be cautious: they can cause burns, injuries and/or fires
  • Do not attempt to make your own
  • Leave them to the professionals

To keep things festive, watch a fireworks display from a distance and consider alternatives like glow sticks, ribbon dancers, confetti poppers or colorful streamers.


Be alert and responsible every time you cook in your kitchen, grill over an open flame, or build a campfire. Share this information with your children and always lead by example. In doing so, you’re giving them the tools to be responsible around fires in the future.

Keeping Your Kids Active This Summer

Studies show that over the summer kids can lose much of what they learned during the school year. By planning activities for your kids this summer, you’re keeping them physically, mentally and socially strong. The added structure to their daily routine is a bonus for the entire family.

 

Staying Active

Federal guidelines show that kids aged 6-17 need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every single day. This includes a mixture of aerobic and strengthening exercises recommended at least three days per week.

  • Aerobic: hiking, walking, skateboarding, rollerblading, swimming
  • Muscle strengthening: climbing rope/trees/monkey bars, tug-of-war games
  • Bone strengthening: running, hopscotch, jump rope

 

Brain Training

Exercising their brain is also critical to a child’s development. Help keep their problem-solving and critical thinking skills strong, so they’ll be prepared come September.

  • Practice: Go through schoolwork packets together
  • Creative time: write and tell stories, draw pictures, build structures with LEGOs
  • New Skills: DIY projects, gardening, cooking—anything to keep kids thinking

 

Social Skills

Your children can still grow their social skills this summer even when social distancing. Being around their peers in a virtual environment will help them learn how to express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas.

  • Camp: If open and safe to attend, consider overnight or day camp which provides social skills, physical activity and brain training
  • Classes: are they interested in dancing, drama, or learning to code? Sign them up! There are many online and virtual classes available
  • Friends: a neighborhood party is a great way to be social and be active outside—just be sure to maintain proper social distancing and safety guidelines

 

Having a structure and routine will keep your kids learning, growing, and free of boredom. Planning activities that you know your kids will enjoy are key to keeping them physically, mentally, and socially active this summer.

 

 

DFD Russell Medical Center expands primary care services in Bridgton

Additional health services offered through a partnership with Central Maine Healthcare’s Bridgton Primary Care practice.

BRIDGTON, Maine (May 18, 2021) – DFD Russell Medical Centers (DFD), a federally qualified health center that provides primary care services in rural Central Maine is expanding into the Bridgton community. As of July 6, 2021, the primary care practice of Bridgton Primary Care (BPC) in Bridgton and owned by Central Maine Healthcare will be transitioning to DFD Russell Medical Centers – Bridgton (DFD) to bring preventative dental care and behavioral health services to the Bridgton community in addition to strengthening access to high-quality, affordable primary healthcare.

DFD Russell Medical Centers first approached Central Maine Healthcare – Bridgton Primary Care with the idea of expanding healthcare access in Bridgton in 2019. Since then, the two organizations have been working together to determine how best to provide the services that are in highest demand in the Bridgton area –services such as dental care and behavioral health. The new partnership will add preventative dental care and integrated behavioral health and psychiatric services. In essence, the partnership has been formed for the health and wellbeing of the Bridgton community.

DFD Russell Chief Executive Officer Laurie Kane-Lewis considers the transition an important step toward improving the overall health and wellbeing of the Bridgton community.

“DFD Russell Medical Centers has been serving Central and Western Maine since the 1970s as a federally qualified community health center (FQHC) with a full array of integrated health services. Our staff and board look forward to expanding services in the Bridgton area and bringing the resources an FQHC can offer – such as patient assistance, community health workers, care management, psychiatric nurse practitioner, integrated behavioral health and preventative dental care – in one location in coordination with specialty care provided by Bridgton Hospital,” Kane-Lewis said.

Bridgton Hospital President Peter J. Wright, FACHE, shares her sentiments.

“The strengthening of our partnership with DFD Russell Medical Centers is great news for the Lakes Region. Their expertise in rural healthcare and their patient-centered approach will be a great benefit to our area. By working together, we will be able to provide more access to the high-quality primary health care, dental care and behavioral health services needed in our community,” Wright said.

Located at 25 Hospital Drive, Bridgton Primary Care provides family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine care. The primary care and internal medicine services currently offered by the Bridgton Primary Care group will now be offered by DFD. Providers at the Bridgton location will predominantly remain the same and patients will not experience any disruption to their medical services.

DFD Russell Medical Centers is a non-profit, federally qualified health center that has served rural Central Maine communities since 1979. Today, DFD is a leader in Maine, standing apart as a nationally recognized Patient-Centered Medical Home and offering pioneering, patient-centered primary care services.

How to Protect Your Skin During Sunny Summer Months

Each year two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer—the most common form of cancer. This summer we may find ourselves outside more often in order to safely socially distance, breathe fresh air, and exercise daily. It’s important to remember that even though it may be cloudy or shady, protecting your skin remains a priority. Here are some tips to keep in mind while enjoying the outdoors:

 

Apply SPF: UV rays can damage or burn your skin any time of the year, not just in the sunny summer months. Even when it’s cloudy or cooler outside, apply an SPF 30 or facial moisturizer with SPF before heading out. Reapply every two hours and be sure to cover all exposed areas, including your face, hands, ears and neck.

 

Use lip balm: Your lips can be sensitive to drying out and cracking going from hot humid air to frigid air conditioning. If you already use lip balm, try swapping it out for a brand with SPF in it.

 

Wear sunglasses: Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, UV rays can reflect off bright surfaces and cause damage. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 99% of UV rays whenever you’re driving, biking, or gardening in the backyard.

 

Know your environment: In higher altitudes, you’re at a higher risk for skin damage from the sun. This is because the atmosphere is thinner as you travel higher above sea level. If you’re planning to go hiking, rock climbing, or any other activity in the mountains, be extra vigilant about wearing SPF, protecting your skin from the elements and wearing appropriate eye protection.

 

 

Sources: mdanderson.org, skincancer.org

 

 

Sleep Hygiene for Better Health

We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping, but are we sleeping well? Sleep hygiene refers to the quality of sleep as well as lifestyle habits, sleeping routine and environment. When we focus on achieving more quality sleep, we start to see our physical, mental and emotional health benefit.

How much should I sleep each night?

Recommended sleep amounts vary for different stages of life. Newborns and babies should sleep for 14-17 hours, toddlers should average 12-14 hours, pre-teens should get 12 hours, and adults over the age of 18 should aim for 7-9 hours every night.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, it could show up as these symptoms:

  • Sleepy during the day
  • Being moody or irritable
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Increased appetite
  • Skin becomes dull; dark circles form under eyes

The average person sleeps less than 7 hours per night.

Why is sleep so important?

Getting enough quality sleep affects your health in many ways. While we’re asleep, our bodies rest and repair themselves from soothing sore muscles, processing data in our brain and building up our immune system. Good sleep also:

  • Regulates hormones
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Aids in weight management
  • Reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke


Getting quality sleep each night also benefits your emotional and mental health. In fact, consistent, quality sleep has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

What can I do to get more sleep?

When we think of getting quality sleep, we usually think of the actions we do right before bed. However, all the actions and decisions we make during the day affect our sleep. To help make sleep hygiene a priority to your health, consider the following lifestyle choices.

During the day

  • Wake up at the same time every morning
  • Exercise regularly; move your body every day
  • Drink plenty of water; eat nutritious foods

During the afternoon

  • Avoid taking naps
  • Limit caffeine and sugar intake
  • Get exposure to natural light (it helps regulate your circadian rhythm)

During the evening

  • Turn off electronics 1 hour before bed
  • Avoid nicotine, alcohol and other substances
  • Create a ritual that promotes relaxation

Your relaxation ritual can include anything that makes you feel less stressed and ready to fall asleep. This could be reading a book, a warm shower, yoga or stretching, journaling, or listening to soft music.



Takeaway: Your actions and behaviors during the day affect your sleep at night, which in turn affects your overall wellbeing and quality of life. Creating a lifestyle that supports healthy sleep hygiene is important to your short and long-term physical and mental health.

If you have issues with the amount or quality of your sleep, contact your healthcare provider. They can help to determine any potential sleep disorders or other lifestyle changes that will aid in your health.

DFD’s Guide to Ticks

Tick counts have been on the rise in Maine and along with them tick-borne disease and illnesses. To keep yourself, your family and your pets protected refer to our tick guide regularly.

Identification

There are over 15 different types of ticks present in Maine. The most common are dog and deer ticks.

  • Deer Tick also called black-legged tick. The size of a deer tick will vary depending on the stage of its life cycle. An adult female has a reddish-brown body, while a male is dark brown. Deer ticks are known to cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan. These infections and diseases have potentially serious consequences if not treated immediately.
  • Dog Tick also called a wood tick. Adult female and males are a dark brown color with males sometimes having spots on its back. Dog ticks are not known to transmit Lyme disease.

NOTE: Dog ticks are NOT active in October and November. Almost all ticks found at this time are deer ticks.

Prevention

There are many things you can do to help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you, your family or your pets.

Property

  • Clear leaf litter away from your house.
  • Move picnic tables, swing sets or play areas away from wooded areas
  • Stack firewood in neat piles off the ground
  • Create a 3′ barrier between yard and wooded areas using wood chips
  • Keep grass cut short; don’t let long grasses or weeds grow in your yard
  • Discourage wildlife (rodents, deer) from entering your property by cleaning up trash or food sources

Pets

  • Keep pets away from tall grasses, wooded areas or habitats where it’s likely ticks are abundant
  • Spray pets with a safe tick spray or bug repellant
  • Give your pets a vaccine or tick/flea preventative medication
  • Check your pets daily for signs of tick bites, attached ticks, or ticks hiding in fur. Be sure to look in/around ears, between toes and paw pads, belly and base of tail.

NOTE: If your pet has signs of fatigue, lameness, fever or lack of appetite, call your veterinarian right away.

Family

  • Use insect repellant whenever spending time outdoors
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to better see ticks
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks if walking in tall grass or wooded areas
  • After being outdoors, place clothes in dryer on high heat for at least 10 mins
  • A shower will rinse off any unattached ticks
  • Avoid areas known to inhabit ticks

Tick Checks

Checking yourself, your family and your pets for ticks should be done consistently, carefully and immediately after spending time outdoors, especially in areas and during times when ticks are most active.

  1. Run fingers through your hair, hairline and through your scalp, feeling for any bumps. Use a comb to brush through hair, looking for unattached ticks.
  2. Check in and around your ears and neck.
  3. Carefully look between fingers and toes.
  4. Check behind knees and underarms—these are favorites for ticks as they’re warm and secure places to hide.
  5. Look around belly button, between legs and on your back. Use a mirror or have someone help you.
  6. Scan your entire body carefully, looking for anything unusual. Ticks can often resemble freckles or moles.

Removal

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, it’s important to remove it immediately. Tick-borne disease and infections including Lyme, are usually transmitted within 36 hours of the initial tick bite. Act fast to prevent illness.

  • Using tweezers: Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull up with even and steady pressure. Try not to twist or jerk while removing a tick as this could cause material to get stuck in your skin which may increase inflammation or discomfort.
  • Using a tick spoon/remover: Place the notch of the spoon tightly against skin close to the tick. Applying downward pressure, slide spoon toward tick so that it gets caught in the notch. Continue sliding the spoon against skin until tick detaches. Do not lift up spoon or try to pry away from skin.

Once tick is removed, examine the bite wound for any potential tick material left in the skin. Thoroughly cleanse skin with warm soap and water. Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

NOTE: If you experience a rash, headaches, fever or flu-like symptoms after a recent tick bite, call your healthcare provider right away.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most reported infectious tick-borne disease in Maine. If not treated right away, there could be dangerous consequences to your health. Remember, your pets can also contract Lyme diseases and other serious infections.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • General unease
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Chills, fever

If left untreated or undetected, other more serious symptoms may develop. These may include:

  • Hot, swollen joints
  • Shooting pain
  • Paralysis on one side of face
  • Dizziness

NOTE: Most cases of Lyme disease respond very well to antibiotics especially if treated early.

Tick Risk

It’s important to know the risk levels associated with ticks and potential tick bites. The following information can also be found on Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute webpage.

Location

Low risk: Northern and northwestern Maine. Few ticks live in this region of the state.
Medium risk: Central and Downeast Maine. This climate is ideal for deer ticks to live.
High risk: Southern and coastal Maine. Deer ticks are established, reproducing and moving north.

Seasons

Low risk: Winter from December to March ticks are less active.
Medium risk: Late summer/early fall particularly August and September.
High risk: Spring, summer and mid-fall months are when deer ticks are highly active.

Property

Low risk: Urban areas and cities where there is little wildlife and trees.
Medium risk: Areas where there are some shrubs, leaf litter and bordering trees.
High risk: Wooded areas with active wildlife and lots of leaf litter.

Activity

Low risk: If you rarely spend time outdoors or if you only do during winter.
Medium risk: If you occasionally spend time outdoors, working or playing.
High risk: If you work and play outdoors often, especially in ticks established areas.

Fresh Air for Your Health

The average American spends 90% of their time indoors. When we spend too much time inside, we tend to become more sedentary which puts us at risk for serious health concerns. Scientific studies have shown that regular time spent outdoors is beneficial to all aspects of our health. To keep your health top of mind and help prevent any potential health concerns, make it part of your daily routine to get outside.

Physical Health Benefits:

  • Reduces stress by lowering cortisol
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases energy with increased endorphins
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves sleep by balancing our natural circadian rhythms
  • Absorb Vitamin D for protecting bones, joints, and reducing inflammation

We get 90% of our Vitamin D levels from exposure to natural sunlight.

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Restores focus
  • Improves mood with increased dopamine
  • Lessens anxiety and depression
  • Enchances creativity
  • Relieves Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms

Surrounding yourself in “green spaces” will help to calm your mind.

Emotional Health Benefits:

  • Increases self-esteem
  • Improves social connections
  • Changes our perspective

What can I do to get outside more?

There are many things you can do to increase your time outdoors. These will depend on your location, the weather, and of course, your personal preferences. We’ve created a short list to get the ideas flowing:

  • Go for a walk around your neighborhood, the park, or a forest trail nearby
  • Take your workout outside
  • Have a work meeting outside
  • Enjoy your morning coffee or tea while sitting outside
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Check out a farmer’s market
  • Listen to the birds, smell the ocean air, watch the wildlife

For time spent in direct sunlight start with 10-15 minutes a few times a week.


Be sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and appropriate shoes when implementing more outdoor time into your routine. It’s also important to note what type of environment you’ll be in (ex. the beach or the mountains), the forecasted weather, and what type of clothing will be appropriate for the activities you’ll be doing.

Do I Have COVID-19 or Seasonal Allergies?

It’s that time of the year again—seasonal allergies are returning. With spring approaching and people taking to the outdoors more with the warming weather, allergies can really wreak havoc. What’s more is that coronavirus continues to spread and unfortunately shares similar symptoms of seasonal allergies. Unsure if you’re sick or have allergies? Read on to learn some major differences.

 

Seasonal allergies affect nearly 8% of Americans.

 

What are seasonal allergies? Seasonal allergies are an allergic response most commonly caused by tree, grass and ragweed pollens. It is also called allergic rhinitis.

 

When do seasonal allergies start? Seasonal allergies can begin to occur as early as February, when tree pollination starts and continue through the spring and summer months with grass and ragweed pollens.

Mild winters can cause plants to pollinate early as well as warm, rainy springs as this promotes plant growth.

 

How can I protect myself? If you know that you have seasonal allergies, it’s important to note the weather. Warm, windy days are the worst if you have allergies. On these days, limit your outdoor time, wash your hands, face and clothes upon returning inside.

Additionally, you may take an over-the-counter antihistamine to limit the severity of your allergen response.

 

Seasonal allergies can occur year-round depending on geographical climate.

 

Are seasonal allergies similar to COVID-19? Yes and no. The coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, is an infectious, upper respiratory infection spread between humans. Seasonal allergies are not contagious.

However, symptoms of seasonal allergies and COVID-19 can be similar, with a few important distinctions.

Symptoms of COVID-19 similar to seasonal allergies:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion, runny nose

Symptoms of COVID-19 NOT similar to seasonal allergies:

  • Fever, chills
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Symptoms of seasonal allergies NOT similar to COVID-19:

  • Sneezing
  • Running, watery or itchy eyes

 

It’s important to note that these lists of symptoms are not exclusive and many other symptoms of both seasonal allergies and COVID-19 may exist. If you believe you have a problem with seasonal allergies, talk with your primary care provider for relief and mitigation options.

If you believe that you have contracted COVID-19, do NOT go to your clinic. Stay at home and call your primary care provider for guidance.

Sources: cdc.gov, acaai.org

How Do I Create a Health Goal?

We all have our own reasons for creating health goals. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau in your exercise routine or weight management plan. Maybe you’ve been wanting to improve your mental and emotional health. But what do you do if you haven’t created a health goal before? We’re glad you asked! We’ve put together a checklist of simple steps for you to take in order to get started.

 

  1. Visit your doctor. This is to discuss the current state of your health. They may be able to help you prioritize health goals, such as smoking cessation.
  2. Brainstorm options. While any one health goal can have a domino effect on your overall wellbeing (quitting smoking improves lung health but may also improve sleep quality, for example), it may be best to start with one goal instead of overwhelming yourself with lots of options all at once.
  3. Define your “why.” Once you’ve decided on your goal, become crystal clear and specific as to why it matters to you. If it doesn’t matter that much to you, you won’t be nearly as invested, and you won’t stick with it.
  4. Make it reasonable. If your goal is unattainable, you may give up altogether or look to unhealthy tactics in order to achieve it. Make sure it’s realistic and follows the steps stated above.
  5. Be specific. Instead of saying, “This year I want to lose 40 pounds” break it down into specific and actionable steps. Try, “This week I’m going to drink more water and prepare more fruits and vegetables into my meals” or “I’m going to lose one pound this week.” When it seems achievable, you’ll be more empowered.
  6. Set a deadline. You’ll want your deadline to be like your goal—specific, reasonable and attainable. You want to be challenged to reach it, but you also want to set yourself up for success too.
  7. Ask for support. It’s okay to ask for help! Whether you’re looking for an accountability buddy or need medical guidance, asking for help takes courage and strength and shows how important your goal means to you.
  8. Be persistent. Even on the days when you don’t think you can do it, show up for yourself. You’ve created small, actionable steps and every day that you act on them, is a day you move closer to achieving your goal.
  9. Keep track. Whether you create a journal, a diary, a notepad or writing entries on your calendar, keep track of the actions you’re taking towards this goal.
  10. Reward success. Each time you reach a new portion of your goal—celebrate yourself! This reminds you of your “why” and will help keep you motivated.

 

If you’re having trouble defining a goal or the actions needed to attain it, reach out to your primary care provider. At DFD, your health is our number one goal.