Winter break is a peak time for head lice. Data reported by Lice Clinics of America shows that lice activity is 20 percent higher in January vs December. It’s likely that the late December holidays festivities are the reason – families gather, kids are home from school having sleepovers and parties, enjoying holiday hugs and cuddles and spreading head lice.
Every year, we see people getting head lice during the holidays, disrupting their peace of mind. The best way to keep head lice out of your home for the holidays is to know how to identify them in the first place. It’s not as easy as you might think.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), part of the National Institutes for Health, one of the challenges of dealing with head lice is correctly identifying the problem. “Because head lice can move quickly, their detection requires expertise and experience,” the NCBI said. “Expertise is key to diagnosis.” Even health care providers frequently misdiagnose head lice infestations. We offer professional screenings at our clinic and highly recommend them before and after school breaks. It’s the best way to have peace of mind that your household is lice free.
Whether you’re the visitor or the visited, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you don’t send your child back to school with head lice. We put together this checklist for preventing head lice infestations during the holidays.
- Go to a clinic for a professional lice screening. If there is a chance you or your children are exposed to head lice over the holidays, the best thing you can do for yourself and your peace of mind is getting a professional head lice screening. We offer them for just $20, and if you do have head lice and choose to be treated at our clinic, the fee is waived. Head lice can be very difficult to diagnose, and false positives are very common. You do not want to spend money to treat head lice if you don’t have the bugs! Our screening process is more comprehensive than what your pediatrician or school nurse can provide as we take the time to comb through the entire head instead of just doing a visual check. We will not miss lice if they are there!
- Use head lice prevention products. People tend to deal with head lice reactively – meaning we freak out when we find head lice in our children and try to get rid of lice as fast as we can. That’s perfectly normal, but we now have products that can help to prevent head lice in the first place. Lice shampoos, conditioners, and sprays for hair, and products to treat bedding, clothing, and furniture where lice may have fallen are all available at our clinic and online. Unlike most over-the-counter lice products, all Lice Clinics of America products are pesticide-free.
- Keep long hair pulled back. Because lice spread through hair-to-hair contact, keeping long hair pulled back or in a braid can prevent exposure.
- Talk to your children about how head lice spread and help them understand behavior that can prevent them from getting head lice such as taking group photos with heads pressed together to fit in the picture or sharing combs and brushes. It’s rare, but head lice can be spread when a strand of hair with a louse on it falls onto a coat, scarf, or hat, so sharing clothing with anyone that you know has head lice probably isn’t a good idea. The louse will crawl on to the first human head it can find because it cannot live anywhere but a human scalp.
- Don’t panic! If you do find head lice or suspect that your child has head lice, do not panic! Neither you, nor your child did anything wrong. Lice can happen to anyone, and we now have the technology to get rid of head lice quickly and safely. Lice Clinics of America – Hawaii is the exclusive provider of lice treatment using the FDA-cleared AirAllé® medical device, which is clinically shown to kill live lice and eggs (nits) in a single treatment that takes about an hour. It’s easy and it has successfully treated more than 650,000 cases of head lice worldwide!
Lice Clinics of America has over 300 clinics in 35 countries, making it the world’s largest network of professional lice treatment centers. Lice Clinics of America – Hawaii has locations on Maui and Oahu and is open 7 days a week by appointment. Call (808) 866-9060 for more information or to schedule an appointment.