September 2008 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Drugstore treatments can put a lid on lice

Discovering head lice on your child’s scalp will send shivers down any parent’s spine. The insects are often detected when a youngster complains about being itchy, especially behind the ears or neck.

To determine if it’s really head lice and not just a dry scalp, Dr. Benjamin Lee, a pediatrician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, suggests parents sit their child down in a well-lit room so the affected scalp can be closely examined. After parting the hair, parents should look for adult lice, which will move, and small white or yellow-brown specks.

“These are lice eggs, or nits,” explains Dr. Lee. “They will be firmly attached to the hair and might be easier to see at the back of the neck or behind the ears. Parents should use a fine-tooth comb and carefully comb through small sections of hair. Between each brush the comb should be wiped with a wet paper towel. The scalp, comb and towel should all be examined for nits.”

If nits are detected, Dr. Lee says, over-the-counter cream rinses that specifically kill lice can be purchased at drugstores. Some lice have shown resistance to these rinses, and he advises parents to treat the scalp again after one week. If the problem persists parents should take their child to a pediatrician.

Dr. Lee also recommends that parents wash their child’s clothes, towels, headwear, and bed linens in hot water and dry them on high heat. Additionally, all items that can’t be washed — such as stuffed animals — should be placed in a plastic bag for a few days till the nits are dead. Lice cannot live more for than 48 hours off the head.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

Scratching at more than surface of athlete’s foot

As school-age athletes head back into the locker rooms, taking some precautions can help avoid one of the more common scourges: athlete’s foot, UT Southwestern Medical Center podiatrists say.

“Common areas such as locker rooms, weight rooms, showers and near pools offer the type of warm, damp environment that can encourage fungal growth that leads to athlete’s foot,” says Dr. Michael VanPelt, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery.

Wash feet with soap and water and be sure they are fully dried, especially between toes. Change socks or hose frequently and alternate pairs of shoes to decrease moisture buildup. Also consider using a daily foot powder and avoid walking around barefoot or wearing others’ shoes. Shoes made of cloth or mesh should be washed.

Treat athlete's foot with fungicides, but if it persists beyond two weeks, see a doctor who can prescribe topical and/or oral anti-fungal drugs or other more effective treatments.

Visit to learn more about clinical services in orthopaedics at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Want to lower your blood pressure? Eat more melons

Summer is the time to chill out with cool summer fruits.

So, why not lower your blood pressure at the same time?

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center say there’s no better way to lower your blood pressure than by indulging in some of the season’s potassium-rich fruit and vegetables.  

“Melons like cantaloupe and watermelon are particularly high in potassium,” says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “One-fourth of a cantaloupe contains 800 to 900 milligrams of potassium, roughly 20 percent of the recommended daily value.”

Two cups of watermelon contains nearly 10 percent of the daily recommended value.

Ms. Sandon said that dried apricots, avocados, figs, kiwi, oranges, raisins, dates, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and even grapefruit are other good sources of potassium.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most adults get 4,044 milligrams of potassium from food and beverages each day.

Visit to learn more about clinical services in nutrition at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Pregnant teens need immediate medical checkups

Finding out your teen is pregnant and plans to have the baby can be scary for parents. During this emotional time it’s important for a young expectant mother to receive prenatal care immediately.

“Even though most teen girls produce healthy babies, whether they do often depends on if they receive adequate medical care,” says Dr. Ellen Wilson, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Checkups are especially critical during the early months of pregnancy.”

A health care provider can tell your teen what to expect during her pregnancy, how to take care of herself and her growing baby, and how to prepare for life as a parent.

“Knowing what to expect can alleviate some of the fears a teen has about being pregnant,” Dr. Wilson says. “A health care provider can recommend classes teens can take on pregnancy, giving birth and parenting. They can also suggest lifestyle changes the teen will need to make to improve her health and that of her baby.”

Visit to learn more about clinical services in obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford


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