Everything you (never) wanted to know about head lice

Even talking about them makes your head itch, but lice is a common problem among kids and big frustration for moms.

The reality is that head lice has always been around but its just that nobody wants to talk about it!!! Did you know that Lice is the second most common communicable disease in children, behind the common cold? – What ages do lice affect most? Lice do not care about what your age is. All they care about is that you have a scalp and hair strands for them to live, produce, and feed on. Head Lice can affect anyone but we have found most cases in the following categories: Elementary and middle school age children (boys and girls) and their mothers (85% of moms have lice too). There has been a significant increase in cases for Middle and High School girls which we believe is attributable to texting, selfies, sleepovers, hugging, sharing ipads, sharing iphones, babysitting and long hair. Lice is spread through head-to-head contact so we find that moms get lice about 80% of the time their children have it. Is there a lice season? There is no season for lice. Lice do not care about day of the week or time of the year. All they care about is that you have a hair strand. At the beginning of the school year and after the holidays there is always more awareness. Lice is spread predominately through head-to-head contact. There are other occasions where lice can be spread through sharing of hairbrushes, hats, and clothes. What’s the most common treatment for lice? There are many treatments for Head Lice and usually the family is so panicked and appalled that they have head lice and they immediately run to the pharmacy for treatment. Unfortunately, these products are becoming increasingly less effective. Over-the-counter treatments and prescription treatments are only 20% to 85% effective, and that is for the live bugs only. There are limited results from these treatments and their effect on the eggs/nits. And the most important thing to know about head lice is that it is a two-step process. The treatment selected must 1: treat the live bugs to prevent them from laying any more eggs (a single bug lays 8 to 10 nits/eggs per day) and 2: effectively treat the nits/eggs or else the lice egg will hatch within 5-7 daysOther than not sharing hats, brushes, combs, etc., what are the best preventative strategies parents can take? The best strategy of course is to avoid head to head contact, keep hair in a bun or braid, and headscreen your child every week. We realize that this is not always practical and we tell our clients to use a preventive spray every morning on their children before they go to school, have a play date or sleepover. This is the best deterrent in helping to prevent the spread or ability to contract head lice. Be sure to purchase a Preventive Lice Spray that has one of the following known scents to deter Head Lice – Mint, Rosemary, eucalyptus, or tea tree. What’s the best advice for someone whose child has been diagnosed with lice? 1: Get your head checked by a professional as soon as possible. There are numerous cases where the client is misdiagnosed so you want to make sure your child actually has an active lice infestation.  2: Have the entire immediate family checked and any other caregivers-babysitters, nannies, etc. This helps to ensure that lice is eradicated the first time you are treated. Many of the families we have seen have been battling lice for several months because they are not aware of the re-infestation within their own home and have not used effective treatment methods to begin with.