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So many kids get lice in January and it has nothing to do with their hair type, colour, gender or household income – it happens just after certain times of year when they gather in larger groups – like during the holidays.
DAWN MUCCI, FOUNDER OF LICE SQUAD
The fact is that head lice are an incredibly common affliction, and no-one is immune! Lice can happen to anyone at any time regardless of hair type, hair colour, gender or household income. Lice are common in schools, in daycares, in camps – pretty well anywhere kids (or adults) gather.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT HEAD LICE
HOW IS HEAD LICE SPREAD?
Head lice spreads by direct head-to-head contact with someone who has a case. The louse crawls along the hair and simply crawls onto another person’s head via a strand of hair. Nits or lice eggs cannot be spread from head-to-head. Eggs are laid on the hair shaft with a cement-like glue which keeps them securely on the hair until the bug hatches from the egg.
Head lice spreads within families especially if parents and children lie down together, sit closely, or sleep together. Lice spreads easily at schools as well because young children typically have close contact with one another either with desks set side-by-side or during normal play and school activities. Though head lice do not hop, jump, or fly, they do crawl very quickly.
A secondary way of contracting lice is through an object which could have a live bug on it. Items like hairbrushes, hair accessories, helmets, headwear, and scarves should not be shared. It’s even possible for a louse to be left behind on a movie theatre chair or train seat headrest. Note that this is NOT the typical way to contract lice, but it is possible.
Being in the same room or taking place in an activity in which someone has a case of head lice does NOT mean you will catch a case. There must be direct head-to-head contact with the infected head. Activities like sleepovers are an example of where children might have this kind of direct head-to-head contact over a period of time, exposing them to the possibility of contracting head lice.
Here Are 3 Helpful Head Lice Prevention Tips!
TIP #1 – HOW TO PREVENT HEAD LICE
It’s not an option to home-school every child or put them in quarantine, keeping them from everyday social activities. But there are a few methods of prevention that might reduce the risk.
- Keep long hair tied up in ponytails or even better, braids or a bun.
- Use a little hairspray to keep stray hairs contained.
- Use a scented product to scent the hair. Tea tree oil can be very drying, so only use a few drops (as directed or look for a product made with a combination of essential oils known for their insect repellant properties.)
- Take a peek once a week. Check a head to avoid the spread. If you catch head lice early, it is easier to remove.
- Educate your kids what to do to avoid getting lice and of the symptoms like scratching.
- Don’t share hair items and visually check head rests before laying or placing your head on them.
Parents should be alert to the common sign of head lice – scratching the head. Watch for children who are scratching or who might even wake up in the night saying that they head is itchy. Pay attention to kids who are visiting and watch to see if they are scratching their scalps as this could indicate a case of lice.
TIP #2 – HOW TO CHECK FOR HEAD LICE
Regular checking can identify a new case early.
If checking for head lice visually, be sure to use direct sunlight or a very good table lamp. Carefully inspect the hair paying particular attention to the area where the hair shaft meets the scalp. Look at the hot spots, around the ears, nape of the neck and especially the crown of the head, as these are common areas for lice to be found.
When checking for head lice, look for lice eggs attached securely to the hair close to the scalp. Viable eggs will be brownish in color and cannot be flicked off the hair. They must be removed between the fingernails, with tweezers, or with a good nit comb. Though head lice move very quickly, you may see an actual bug. Lice are the size of sesame seeds and are brownish grey to caramel in color. They are see-through and can appear to take on the colour of the hair.
TIP #3 – HOW TO PREVENT LICE IN THE COMMUNITY
If you or a family member does contract head lice, don’t panic. This very common condition has nothing to do with cleanliness and it can be treated without the use of pesticides. Millions of North Americans have a head lice experience every year. A whole range of treatments is available and head lice removal services also exist in many communities nationwide.
Dawn Mucci is Canada’s Leading head lice expert and founder of Lice Squad and Superhero Kids Hair with Care. Canada’s largest head lice removal and hair care franchise for children and people living with autism. She is a mother of three, award winning franchisor, entrepreneur and writer who advocates against the stigma associated with lice and the overuse and abuse of pesticides on children and the planet. She helps women and men be in business for themselves but not by themselves. You can also see Dawn featured on CBC News, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Parents Canada.
Canadian Pediatric Association has also prepared this clinical update on head lice infestations.
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