Prepare for Back to School

August means a new school year is starting. With the school year starting, there's another thing not to forget: back-to-school medical needs. Hawthorne Pharmacy is here to help you and your children get school-ready.

Head Lice

Head lice are parasitic insects mostly found among human hairs. They feed on blood from the scalp, are highly contagious, and spread through head-to-head contact. Classic symptoms include constant scratching of the head that does not subside. You may notice small red bumps or a rash. This can happen from scratching. If you notice any of these symptoms, inspect the scalp for any tiny yellow or brown lice eggs or for grayish-white, sesame seed-sized lice.

Talk to your health care provider to come up with a plan to best treat your child and household. Treatment can vary, depending on your child’s age and what you have previously tried.

Before school starts, tell your child to avoid head-to-head contact, not to share personal items that touch the hair, and not to lie on things or places used by someone with lice. Finally, check the school’s return policy.

While several health concerns come to the forefront as students head back to their classrooms, head lice seem to top the list at most pharmacies. 

Cough and Cold Season

The start of the school year also means the start of the cough and cold season. Be sure to follow these simple steps to keep your children healthy this fall:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Although it's a very simple task, hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy in school. Remind your child to frequently wash his or her hands, especially before eating and after using the bathroom, nose blowing, or playing outdoors.
    • If hand-washing is not possible, hand sanitizer may be useful, especially before eating and after sharing communal objects like pencil sharpeners, water fountains, and computers.
  • Cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Remind your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the elbow crease. And, of course, remind your child to dispose of the used tissue and clean his or her hands (wash with soap or use hand sanitizer).
  • Avoid touching your eyes and mouth. Hands are typically covered in germs. Remind your child to avoid touching his or her eyes or mouth.
  • Do not share personal items like food or water bottles.


Certain vaccinations are required prior to attending school. Help keep students up to date on their immunizations based on your local and state laws. Common school-age immunizations are MMR, TDaP, HPV, and Meningococcal vaccines. Be prepared by checking with your provider to see what vaccines you or your loved ones might need.


Students have many different medications they may need to fill prior to the school year starting, including an EpiPen for severe allergies, inhalers for asthma, or ADHD medications. Make sure to check the expiration dates on your children’s EpiPens.

Every school is different in its policy on medications. Be sure to ask your child's school nurse about the school policy. This becomes important when your child needs to take a dose of medication during the day. 

Whether it's a dose of your child's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication or an inhaler for exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (also known as exercise-induced asthma), your child and the school nurse should know the plan.

Also, speak with the school nurse about an emergency action plan for potential medical emergencies. This way, the school staff will know what to do in case of an asthma attack, severe allergic reaction, or another health emergency.

Back Problems

Even with lockers at school, increasing school loads are forcing children to carry heavier bags. If your children’s bags look too heavy, there may be cause for concern.

When carrying heavy shoulder bags, there is uneven weight on the shoulders. While the short-term effects of soreness may be nothing unusual, in the long term, a heavy shoulder bag can contribute to the spine curving sideways, a condition known as scoliosis.

Bags should be less than 10 percent of the carrier's body weight. If a heavier bag is unavoidable, try using larger straps or carrying shoulder bags closer to the body and alternating sides.

The College Transition

New college students may not have a lot of experience with managing their health care. Hawthorne can assist your student with that transition. Before a student goes off to college, our pharmacists can go walk students through the prescription refill process. 

College students should ask their providers about 90-day prescription options. Filling prescriptions for 90 days could help students potentially reduce trips to the pharmacy. In addition, 90-day prescriptions and 90-day refills have been shown to improve medication adherence.

We can also recommend specific over-the-counter medications to include in a college student’s first aid kit and medicine cabinet.

Other Supplies

Not only can you fill your medications or get your vaccine, but you can also find grab-and-go options for back-to-school items in any of our eight pharmacies. 

Normally back to school also means stocking up on skincare and dental items and respiratory products like humidifiers to assist with sleeping.

Braces are big for school sports. Along with the knee and other orthopedic braces, make sure to be ready for the new school year with external pain relievers and hot and cold treatments. 

Pick up back-to-school items like facial tissues, hand soap, and hand sanitizer that are useful for the classroom and college dorm.

Don't forget the basics though! Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, exercise, and healthy food. These may be basic concepts, but they go a long way.

A safe and healthy return to school

As summer comes to an end, the time comes to prepare students to head back to school. Back-to-school season always entails trips to multiple stores for a laundry list of items, such as pencils, folders, tissues, clothes, shoes, and more. For many parents, the pharmacy is also a necessary stop for over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Let Hawthorne Pharmacy help you prepare for this year’s back-to-school season. Our knowledgeable pharmacist can discuss back-to-school immunizations, side effects, drug and food interactions, as well as tips on remembering when to take medications.

If you have concerns about your child's health, speak with your family health care provider.

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