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I had one of those ‘mom moments’ the other day when I realized I should be worrying about something for my preschooler that hadn’t yet occurred to me: lice.
The thought came about because I was surfing around online and read a post by a mom frustrated that her kid had brought lice home from preschool. She wasn’t sure how to prevent it from happening again as during the winter months all the kids just threw their hats and coats into a big pile by the door. Re-infestation seemed imminent.
UUUGH! The kids at my son’s preschool throw their coats and hats into a pile too. (Is this like a common thing?!)
Anyway, I suddenly felt the pressure to have a plan in place, to know how and what I want to use to treat a head lice infestation should my little cutie come home with one. And, ideally, learn some ways to prevent anything from “infesting” my kid at all.
Enter Lice Clinics of America, and expert Krista Lauer.
First up: Lice Clinics of America. They make a non-toxic Lice Preventer Kit which, when used weekly, is guaranteed to prevent lice from ever getting a foothold no matter how often or how severe the exposure is. The active ingredient is dimethicone, which (Google it!) is recommended as not only safe but also as the most effective lice treatment by many experts (including the famous Dr. Sears). It kills stray lice simply by suffocating them, vs other treatments that kill via pesticides. Use it once a week, during bath time, and stop a lice infestation before it ever gets started.
Sign me up! Not every week all the time, of course, but you better believe I’m keeping it on hand in case we ever get news that lice is going around at school. I’d much rather prevent for a few weeks than deal with a full-fledged lice problem here at home
That being said, if somehow the lice do manage to move their whole family in there’s a non-toxic at-home kit for that too: Lice Clinics of America’s Lice Remover Kit. It has a pleasant pear blossom scent and works similarly to the preventer in that it’s a dimethicone-based gel that you comb in and then wash out. And it’s also guaranteed (when used as directed, of course), in part due to the dimethicone ingredient and how it works: because it kills via natural suffocation methods it’s effective on all strains of lice, including “super lice” that have developed resistances to the pesticides used in other products like RID.
And, as a third option, Lice Clinics of America also offers a unique treatment in their clinics (click here to find a location near you, they have the largest network in the country!) using an FDA-cleared medical device called the AirAllé to eliminate head lice & eggs with controlled, heated air. Read more about how that works on their website.
So, with all the treatments covered, let’s go back to expert Krista Lauer. She was kind enough to share some lice FAQs with us, covering everything from prevention tips to how lice infestations occur to what makes a person more or less prone to getting lice. Here’s what she had to say:
What are some lice prevention tips for parents?
- “In order to spot an infestation early, it’s important to perform frequent head checks. Adult lice are the easiest to spot because they are the largest. But, at the size of a sesame seed, they still aren’t that big. Although lice vary in color, they commonly appear to look grayish-white or tan. Adult head lice can only live up to 48 hours without human blood.”
- “Parents can also keep their child’s hair up in buns or braids. But, the most important thing to keep in mind when preventing head lice is to avoid head-to-head contact with others.”
- “Playing the defensive role is the easiest way to avoid getting head lice from others. Staying lice free can be done by remembering not to share things like hair brushes, hair accessories, pillows, hooded clothing, and costumes. More than 98% of infestations occur from direct head to head contact, and even though it is extremely rare to get lice from an object (hat, brush etc.), as a precaution, we recommend that these objects not be shared.”
Can anyone get head lice or are certain people prone to it?
- “Lice are an opportunist parasite. Once the bug is in someone’s hair, it’s very easy to pass along from person-to-person, no matter if they are dirty, where they are from or socioeconomic status. There is no socioeconomic tendency and infestations have nothing to do with hygiene. Washing your hair won’t help to remove the lice, but will make it easier for them to cling to the scalp/hair.”
How do people get infested with lice?
- “The primary way to get lice is when a person’s head comes in direct contact with the head of an infested individual. Head-to-head contact doesn’t guarantee the infestation will spread, but it gives lice the best opportunity to move from the hair of the infested person to the hair of a new person. It is estimated that between 6 and 12 million cases of lice infestations occur every year.”
What are some conditions that make a person’s hair more inclined to attract lice? Less inclined?
- “Lice are an equal opportunity infester. There is some thought that lice may prefer clean hair to dirty hair because it may be easier to crawl through, although this is unclear. A lice infestation is not an indication of poor hygiene and lice do not distinguish based on socioeconomic levels. There are no specific factors that make a person more or less likely to get lice if they come in contact with someone who has an infestation. A head lice infestation is simply a result of exposure.”
What are drastic or dangerous consequences that leaving lice untreated can lead to?
- “A head lice infestation is a nuisance but it is not dangerous. Lice do not carry or transmit any diseases. A person could scratch their scalp causing open areas. There is the possibility that these excoriated areas could become infected, but this is not common.”
What are the signs/symptoms to look out for when it comes to lice?
- “The most common symptom of a lice infestation is an itchy scalp. Itchiness develops as a reaction to lice biting the scalp for a blood meal. It takes 4-6 weeks for a person to react to the bites and develop itchiness, so a person has been infested for quite a while before itchiness occurs. Even then, not everyone with lice will get an itchy scalp. It is estimated that up to 50% of people with a head lice infestation will not have any symptoms!”
What are your experiences with lice? Honestly, I’m hoping we never have any (but at least we’re prepared if we do).
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