Holiday break is over and the kids are back to school, and with that comes the ever-present threat of head lice on Long Island, thanks to such close quarters in schools in Nassau County and Suffolk County.
To help local parents rid their kids’ hair of lice, Your Local Kids has comprehensive health care guides for Nassau and Suffolk that lists places for head lice detection and removal such as Fairy LiceMothers, which has a location in Deer Park and Oceanside.
However, parents can also help prevent this from happening to their kids by knowing the signs and symptoms of head lice, which can occur when school is in session, as well as when school is out for the summer.
So Your Local Kids has also compiled some simple prevention tips, and a list of what parents should look for, from the New York State Department of Health website:
- What are head lice? Head lice (plural for louse; also known as pediculosis) are tiny, wingless parasites that live in human hair and feed on tiny amounts blood drawn from the scalp. This can result in severe itching. Lice lay their eggs in human hair. These eggs are known as nits (hence the term, nit-picking).
- Who can get them? Anyone in close quarters with the right exposure, such as in schools.
- How are they transmitted? Transmission can happen very easily via direct contact with one who already has them and via the shared use of clothing, hats, combs and brushes.
- What are the symptoms of head lice? According to the NYS DOH, “Usually, the first indication of an infestation is the itching or scratching in the area of the body where the lice feed. Scratching at the back of the head or around the ears should lead to an examination for head louse eggs (nits) on the hair….Scratching can be sufficiently intense to result in secondary bacterial infection in these areas.”
- How long before symptoms show? It could take two to three weeks for the associated intense itching to occur.
- How long can it be spread? As long as eggs or lice live on the person or person’s clothing.
- What’s the best way to prevent head lice? According to the NYS DOH, “Physical contact with infested individuals and their belongings, especially clothing, headgear and bedding, should be avoided. Health education on the life history of lice, proper treatment and the importance of laundering clothing and bedding in hot water or dry cleaning to destroy lice and eggs is extremely valuable. In addition, regular direct inspection of children for head lice, and when indicated, of body and clothing, particularly of children in schools, institutions, nursing homes and summer camps, is important.”
- What else can parents to do to prevent head lice in their children? Keep long hair in braids or ponytails or keep it short. Make sure kids don’t share clothing, hats, helmets, hair accessories, towels, etc., and make sure they don’t hang towels or bags next to each other or place them in piles. And spend a few minutes once a week checking for head lice by combing through children’s hair. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control suggests avoiding head-to-contact during play and other activities at home, school or elsewhere, and avoid contact with beds, couches, pillows, carpets and stuffed animals of someone with head lice.
And what if your child already has head lice? Here are a few tips for removal:
- Head lice can very tough to remove, so for that reason it generally requires over-the-counter (OTC) medicated or prescription treatment, according to the CDC.
- According to the NYS DOH, “Medicated shampoos or cream rinses containing pyrethrins or permethrin are preferred for treating people with head lice. Products containing pyrethrins, permethrin or malathion are available over-the-counter, but those containing lindane or malathion are available only through a physician’s prescription. Lindane-based shampoos are not recommended for infants, young children, pregnant women, lactating women, the elderly, persons with HIV or seizure disorders, persons who have very irritated skin or sores where the lidane will be applied and persons who weigh less than 110 pounds. Retreatment after seven to 10 days is often recommended to ensure that no eggs have survived. Nit combs are available to help remove nits from hair. Dose and duration of shampoo treatment should be followed carefully according to label instructions.”
- However, for children younger than two years old, the lice and nits should be removed by hand using “a fine-tooth comb on your child’s wet, conditioned hair every three to four days for two weeks after the last live louse was seen,” according to Kids’ Health by Nemours.
- According to the CDC, “Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that [a person with head lice] wore or used during the two days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for two weeks.”
- The CDC also suggests vacuuming the floor and furniture, “particularly where the infested person sat or lay,” but don’t go over board or use fumigant or fog sprays.
- In addition, the CDC says to disinfest affected combs and brushes “by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for five to 10 minutes.”How to Prevent and Remove Lice in Kids
Here is some helpful advice and important things to remember from Fairy LiceMothers a local Long Island business dedicated to the Removal & Prevention of head lice:
Lice can only live on a human head!
They need human blood to survive. If a louse came off your head it would be dead within 24 hours.
Before you have lice: ONCE A WEEK TAKE A PEEK!
Children should be checked on a weekly basis when they do not have lice. They should be combed out with a nit comb and conditioner. This would help find a very early case of lice. For assistance, please watch the comb out video located at www.FairyLiceMothers.com/lice_treatment.html
Once you find lice:
Lice removal is a 2 week process of combing the hair in ALL directions to ensure all nits are removed. There is no product that kills and washes nits out of the hair. All products target killing the bugs. The bugs have become resistant to the pesticides found in many products. It is best to use a Non-Toxic product to kill the bugs. House cleaning is minimal. Wash bedding, vacuum couches, boil brushes and combs and put stuffed animals that are slept with in dryer for 30 minutes. This only has to happen the first day, you do not have to clean every day. You do not need to bag anything up.
To help prevent further spreading of lice:
It is also advised to contact all people you were in contact with so they can get checked. Lice are spread primarily by direct head to head contact.
If you have any additional questions about lice removal and prevention, Fairy LiceMothers is happy to offer you a free phone consult, please call (866) 561-0492.