As anyone who has come into contact with lice can attest, it’s a truly unique experience. Though tiny in size, they can bring households to their knees and have inspired countless tales and so-called remedies. But what to do when they come calling? With school soon in session and the end of camp, we turned to LCA Miami Clinic Owner Heather Wilson O’Connor to get the facts on these tiny creatures.
Is there any actual way to prevent Lice?
There are several preventative measures that can be used to reduce the chances of being infested. Most important of all is diligence. We recommend checking all family members once per week as early detection can make all the difference. Girls should wear their hair in a tight braid or bun when they are in social settings and we recommend not sharing items like hats, brushes, and hair accessories. Additionally, there are products available such as shampoos, conditioners and sprays which contain preventive ingredients. Just be sure to read the ingredients, as all natural, non-toxic options are the best choice. And surprisingly, lice prefer clean hair so washing one’s hair less frequently can actually be a preventive step! Ultimately, it’s about awareness and teaching your kids to be aware as well.
How are lice transferred?
Lice don’t fly and they don’t jump. They actually crawl very quickly along strands of hair and can move head to head with great ease given the right opportunity. Close interactive play, a hug, or a quick whisper in the ear of a friend are all examples of how lice can easily take up new residence with an unsuspecting host. Interestingly, we are seeing a significant rise in head lice with older kids due to taking “selfies” with their smartphones! As mentioned earlier, sharing things like hats, brushes, hair accessories, pillows, etc. can also be to blame.
What are the symptoms to look for?
The most telltale sign is an itchy head although a small percentage of people never feel the itch. Hot spot areas for itchiness are at the neck, around the ears and on the crown of the head. Also, the eggs (nits) tend to look like dandruff in the hair and are often mistaken as such. If those white flecks in the hair don’t move and seem glued to the hair shaft then most likely they are lice eggs. They will also tend to be very close to the scalp.
If your child has Lice what are the best steps to get rid of them?
Lice can be incredibly stressful and confusing. If there’s any doubt, get a professional to assess the situation. Once an infestation is diagnosed by a professional or from self-examination, there are a few options. The OTC products have been around for years, however, we now have “Super Lice” that have become resistant to these products. Additionally, they have never been able to kill the eggs and they are also laden with chemicals and toxins. If someone is interested in treating at home, it is doable with time, patience and perseverance. Make sure to use a professional grade nit comb and commit to a regimen of strand by strand combing for several days until all eggs and lice are removed. This takes time as the tiny eggs are the biggest challenge to remove. Another option is the FDA cleared AirAlle treatment. This is exclusively offered by Lice Clinics of
America and uses controlled heated air to kill lice and 99.2 percent of eggs in a single treatment. It is a three-step treatment process that requires approximately 90 minutes depending on level of infestation, texture and length of hair.
Lice can be really stressful, how do you know when you’re truly done with the treatments and the Lice are not coming back?
Being eagle-eyed and incredibly diligent will let you know if lice remains or not. When in doubt, professional consultation will also give peace of mind. By following the guidelines I mentioned earlier you can greatly reduce this from happening again in the future but let’s face it, lice have been around for centuries and will probably stick around to cause undue stress for a few more! Education and prevention is key; if we can end the stigma that comes with lice, we will see less recurrence of it. People who talk openly about their lice experiences with friends and family will lead them to be diligent and proactive themselves which will greatly reduce the chance of a re-infestation.