Do you want to know how to detect head lice on your children? Your best bet is the “wet check.”

Lice head check

Weekly wet head checks are the best measure for early detection of head lice

 

So, you want to know how to detect head lice on your children. Well, research has shown that “wet checks” are the most reliable and effective method for detecting head lice. A wet check is done on wet or dampened hair with a good, high quality, solid stainless steel nit comb. Using a comb with a flimsy plastic handle or a poorly made comb will not yield an accurate result. In combing through dampened hair, one is examining what is removed for the presence of either lice or nits. The presence of either one is a confirmation that treatment for head lice is warranted.

If you’ve found something and you aren’t sure if it is a nit or not, feel free to email a photo of your suspicious object to: njlicelady@gmail.com  Please place your object on a white background next to a penny (in order to give perspective for size). See directly below. It is important that pictures be taken as close up as possible and as in focus as possible in a top down orientation.

How to detect head lice and nits

Close up of nits next to a penny

 

 

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Pesticide resistant super lice are the likely source of head lice outbreaks that persist in communities. When the traditional “go-to” methods fail, lice continues to spread.

Recently, parents in a town in NJ reported that out of approximately 100 fifth grade students, nearly 23 had been found to have head lice. The general statistics for head lice vary, but depending on whom you ask, you’ll find that somewhere between 3-6% of school-aged children have head lice at any given time. When more than 20% of the children in a population have head lice, this points to a problem. More likely than not, the problem is treatment failure due to pyrethroid pesticide resistance. The popular OTC lice remedies are pyrethroid pesticides, to which a recent study proved lice have developed a resistance. In NJ, about 30% of lice tested were resistant to the pyrethroid pesticides. So, what’s a parent to do?

Dimethicone, a silicone oil, is highly effective against live lice while being completely non-toxic at the same time. Proper removal of nits is necessary in any school district which enforces a “no nit” policy, and so the use of a dimethicone-based product, such as KaPOW! Lice Attack Solution, together with a high quality solid stainless steel nit removal comb (not one with a plastic handle that cannot be boiled for sterilization purposes), is the perfect recipe for defeating even pesticide resistant super lice.

NJ Lice Lady has helped hundreds of families defeat these stubborn pesticide resistant super lice. If you or someone you know is struggling with head lice that isn’t responding to a traditional remedy, I can help. Contact me today at (908)548-4480 text or call.

lice pesticide pesticide resistant lice

Result of treating pesticide resistant head lice with pesticide, these bugs were removed from a client two days after she was treated with Nix. These bugs survived that treatment.

 

 

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In the past week, as I treated head lice in Westfield, Cranford and Maplewood, NJ, the same question came up as I removed lice and nits from the heads of precious kids and their parents: how do we avoid lice in the future? I have developed the BEST speech that I give to my youngest clients. It was borne of the need to make younger children understand why sharing certain things isn’t a good idea. After all, we teach them at such a young age that they ought to share everything. “Sharing is caring” isn’t it? Not always. Not with lice. Lice really is the gift that keeps on giving.

So, for everyone who isn’t fortunate enough to hear the speech in person, here is a version you can use to educate yourself and your family about what they can do to avoid lice. This is the parting advice I leave with the families I am honored to assist with their battle against head lice. Sit back and enjoy (popcorn optional):

Me: Do you know how most people get lice?

YP (Young Person): Uh uh

Me: Most people get lice because they put their head to together with someone else who has lice. Do you know how that happens?

YP: Hugging?

Me: Yes! Hugging! Another way is when you share a small screen with a friend and you don’t realize your heads are touching. Maybe it happens in school when you work in a group and everyone leans into the middle to see something at the same time. So, from now on you want to think about where your head is and where other peoples’ heads are, OK? You don’t have to be afraid of your friends, but you don’t need to hug everyone either, OK?

YP: OK

Me: OK, so the next thing I need to ask you is, if your friend took off their underwear and gave it to you, would you put it on?

YP: (making scrunchy face) NO!

Me: No, of course not because that’s gross, right?

YP: Really gross!

Me: Yes, it is really gross. Because underwear is very private and it’s only for one person. Well, guess what! The things you wear or use on your head, like hats, brushes, head bands, head phones, pony tail holders, helmets hoodie sweatshirts and scarves are also private and they are only meant for one person. You don’t give yours to anyone else and you don’t take them from other people and put them on, OK?

YP: OK

OK, it doesn’t always go EXACTLY like that, but it’s close. You get the drift. The kids really respond to the underwear thing. It drives home the idea of privacy and not sharing. Besides, kids love a good potty reference and you’ve got to know your audience!

 

For parents, these are my top tips for avoiding lice in the household:

  1. Use a GOOD QUALITY STAINLESS STEEL NIT COMB to conduct regular weekly head checks (this won’t keep lice out of your house, but it will head off a full scale outbreak in your family)
  2. Girls should wear their hair back as often as possible, boys should keep hair neatly trimmed if possible
  3. Remind your kids about the prohibition on sharing personal items
  4. Don’t be the parent who freaks out when they get the lice call, because you will stop getting those calls (this is bad because you will stop finding out if your child/ren have been exposed to lice)

Do you know someone who is struggling with lice? Is it you? There is a lice treatment option in NJ that doesn’t have to break the bank…Call or text to find out more (908)548-4480. NJ Lice Lady is committed to raising the bar of quality lice treatment while making sure that treatment remains affordable and accessible.

 

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Late summer fun often is the lead-in to back to school lice outbreaks. Children who returned from camp, whether overnight or day camp, may be spreading their bounty to their friends in these first days of school. The gathering spot at my daughter’s elementary school was a veritable hug-fest today. Everyone fresh from summer vacation, happy to be reunited, warmly greeting one another on this, our first day of school. The Lice Lady in me was cringing.

 

Here’s everything you need to know about back to school lice outbreaks. This is knowledge I have gained from years as a lice treatment professional.

  1. While September is Head Lice Awareness Month, October actually is when the outbreaks typically peak. Many cases of lice don’t get discovered until they have festered long enough to spread to friends and family members. My own personal lice story begins in late October when my son was in first grade and had a bona fide Lice Circus on his head!
  2. Pesticide resistance is REAL! If you find your child has lice and you start treating with a pesticide, there is a better than even chance you will find the problem doesn’t resolve. Aside from being toxic and dangerous (in this woman’s opinion & many others) the permethrin and pyrethrins in OTC pesticides have become relatively useless against today’s lice.
  3. If you think that you know what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you’re incorrect. Examining the scalp for nits will yield no result, likewise, searching for these tiny, sesame seed sized bug who are skilled in hiding from light will tend to be a fruitless endeavor.
  4. Even if you don’t end up treating professionally, which is not necessary, get a trusted professional to inform you. Purchase non-toxic products and remember that fighting lice is a process and it requires steadfast commitment. It cannot be done in a one time treatment, and it can be labor intensive.

Got any more questions about back to school lice outbreaks or lice treatment in NJ? Contact the NJ Lice Lady at njlicelady@gmail.com.

 

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Often I am asked by clients, “How long have we had lice?” It’s an important question to attempt to answer so that friends and relatives may be properly informed, but it’s just as difficult a question to answer definitively. While it is possible to answer in general terms, the effort to pinpoint a day or a point in time is complicated by the life cycle of this annoying little parasite. Follow along:

  1. An adult human head louse glues an egg (nit) to a strand of hair.
  2. From that nit, sometime between 7-10 days later, a first stage nymph will emerge.
  3. Over the next 7-10 days, that nymph will eat and grow and molt its exoskeleton 3 times to become an adult human head louse capable of mating.
  4. Within 24 hours of finding a mate, the fertilized female will begin laying her own eggs at a rate of 3-5 eggs twice a day.

So, sometime between 14-20 days from being laid as an egg, a bug will be mature. That’s a wide range of time. So, let’s play CSI: Head Lice Division for a moment. Here is what I found on the head that I treated today:
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 bugs, primarily stage 2 nymphs. There were a few stage 1 nymphs, numerous stage-2 nymphs, 1-stage 3 nymph and 2 adult lice. In combing the client, I found about 30-50 nits. Because of the amount of time it takes to stand and count eggs and because my clients pay by the hour, I eyeball my counts and guesstimate the timeline. Using the information I already disclosed above, can you guesstimate how long this person had lice?
Here’s what I think…I believe my client had lice for 2.5-3 weeks. In CSI terms, I believe the forensic evidence supports the following interpretation of the case: Client acquired a fertilized female from a friend at camp. Normal egg laying activity for a female is 6-10 eggs a day. It is likely that the female laid her eggs per normal until she was either presented with an opportunity to leave the head for a new host or she was otherwise interrupted, perhaps being killed by a hair brush, hair dryer, flat iron or the like. The eggs she laid were left to incubate on the host head. Because the number of nits did not exceed greatly the number of bugs, it is my guess that the adult lice I found on the client hatched on the head and only just matured. This case of lice was confined to the one family member and had not yet spread to other family members, HOWEVER, had it not been caught today and been allowed to continue, it is likely that within the week, the sibling and mother of the affected child would have become infested as well.
I cannot prove my theory because those inconsiderate lice don’t leave us Post-It Notes telling us the details of their adventures. Although applying deductive reasoning this scenario is feasible. There could be other explanations, though for me, it’s the low nit count relative to the number of bugs that leaves me thinking this infestation is fairly new.
Are you finding yourself asking “how long have we had lice” or other questions about head lice treatment? Need to talk to someone who can help? NJ Lice Lady can help! Email njlicelady@gmail.com

or call (908)548-4480

 

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There is no one time lice treatment solution. Ever hear a lice treatment company publicize that their process was “one treatment” and that’s it? Don’t be fooled or misled by any person or company that touts a quick and simple solution to lice. Simply put, lice treatment is a process. It is something that always requires some degree of follow up to ensure success. There are no short cuts.

Once upon a time, I worked with a medical device to treat head lice. It boasted impressive statistics: it desiccated 99.2% of nits and killed about 87% of live bugs on a person’s head. The issue in this case being that additional steps were needed to ensure an end to any lice infestation. First, a comb out needed to be done, primarily for cosmetic reasons, but additionally, there needed to be an application of a product which eliminated live bugs that remained after the treatment with the heated air produced by the device. In fact, the cosmetic comb out and the product were the only essential parts of the process. The medical device increased treatment time in most cases, increased the cost of treatment, and aside from peace of mind, didn’t truly change the nature of the process.

NJ Lice Lady’s process is a simple one. Our one time in-person visit consists of an application of a non-toxic, dimethicone-based lice treatment product (KaPOW! Lice Attack Solution), followed by a thorough comb out, a simple at-home follow up protocol consisting of two more applications of the product and weekly head checks. If you are using a product reliable for the elimination of live bugs, it is not necessary to spend extra money to return to a lice treatment provider for professional follow up.

If you know someone who is battling a lice problem in New Jersey, tell them there is a better alternative to high-priced lice treatment centers. There is a resource for non-toxic lice treatment in NJ that doesn’t break the bank, and where the owner is always hands-on. Contact NJ Lice Lady (908)548-4480 or email njlicelady@gmail.com

 

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With summer lice outbreaks around New Jersey, it’s been a busy week here at NJ Lice Lady. I’ve seen families from Monmouth County all the way up to Passaic County. One thing is certain, back to school lice outbreaks are sure to be plentiful once more this year. As we sit here on August 8th, I know of more than one day camp in the area that has dealt with lice recently. My experience tells me that, with the rise in pesticide resistance among head lice and the misinformation most parents are either given by friends or seek out on the Internet, the current outbreaks will easily convert to a school-time issue. In fact, as is usually the case, October will likely prove to be the worst month for identification of these cases of lice. Some children will spend the month of September spreading lice to their friends before their lice problem is identified.

As the mom of a newly-minted cheerleader, and a soon-to-be 9 year old girl, I am bracing myself for the possibility that I could find myself treating my own child this year. I’m often asked for words of advice. Here is a handy guide to facts and tips you can use to help keep your family lice free. Feel free to print yourself a copy!Basic Lice Facts and Tips for Lice Prevention In addition to these basic tips and facts about lice, it is important that parents understand that it’s their job to be checking their kids for lice regularly. The proper way to do this is by combing through the hair with a GOOD QUALITY stainless steel nit comb. There is simply no substitute for a good comb.

Got questions about lice and how to handle your own family’s lice outbreak? Don’t be shy…email me at njlicelady@gmail.com

or give me a call to schedule an appointment in New Jersey (908)548-4480.

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Recently, the Doctor Oz show was caught perpetuating the stigma of lice in its “Dr. Oz’s Awkward Hall of Shame: Your Most Humiliating Health Disasters.” Among the “disasters” was a woman who got head lice from her children. Putting aside the gross inaccuracy of portraying head lice as a “humiliating health disaster,” the good doctor gave out several bits of misinformation which set back my mission to properly inform and prepare families to deal with head lice.

Here is the video of the unfortunate segment: http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/dr-ozs-awkward-hall-shame-your-most-humiliating-health-disasters?video_id=3547276504001

Here is a list of the inaccurate information dispensed by America’s favorite on-air medical professional:

  • It is not easy to see nits (lice eggs) in blonde hair. Most blonde hair is comprised of several shades and tones which helps to mask the nits. In fact, most people agree that nits are easiest to see on dark hair.
  • Lice is not terrifying, mortifying or embarrassing. It is a fact of life when you live with children of school age. More and more, people understand that lice is not a sign of poor hygiene or economic status. It is no more “mortifying” than strep or a stomach virus. Perpetuating the stigma in this way only makes the problem worse.
  • Lice do not grow as they eat. I think Dr. Oz has them confused with ticks. Lice grow when they shed their exoskeleton and advance to the next stage of development. There are 3 stages of nymph before the louse is a mature adult capable of reproducing.
  • There are not “hundreds” of bugs right away. It takes time for an infestation to reach the point of hundreds of bugs.
  • “Lice Shampoos” that he talks about are not shampoos at all, they are pesticides. They are also becoming less and less effective as head lice evolve resistance to these products. They do not kill nits…he got that right!
  • Despite his demonstration, nits cannot be removed with any old fine toothed comb. A special nit comb is needed to remove nits. To see that a really effective comb looks like click here
  • Semantics but: the plural of louse is not “louses” it is LICE!
  • The mousse products do not make nits “slippery,” they actually do very little at all. In my experience, it is best to comb dampened hair with a little detangler and nothing more.
  • Washing items does not help get rid of lice. 20-30 minutes on high heat in the dryer is ALL that is needed to kill any live bug that might possibly be hitchhiking on an item.

 
Ready to get some help from someone who REALLY knows about lice? Email njlicelady@gmail.com to schedule an appointment today!
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I have addressed this issue before, but my usual peek at Google Analytics tells me this is something that people are really concerned with finding out about. At the risk of placing myself at odds with school districts and private schools with policies with which I disagree strenuously, here is the lowdown on returning to school after a bout with lice.

When a child is treated PROPERLY (big caveat there) they can return to school the same day if time allows. Head lice is a transient (we hope) physical condition. Head lice infestation, if taken care of properly, should not be a factor in limiting any social interaction. Once live activity (euphemism for bugs) has been addressed adequately the person is no longer “contagious” and cannot spread lice to anyone else. The main problem here is that many times, the live activity is attempted to be addressed through the application of OTC pesticides which are becoming less and less reliable for the elimination of live activity due to the rise in pesticide resistant strains of head lice.

I have been told by some parents that their school has a 24 hour nit free policy, meaning that children must be nit free for at least 24 hours before returning to school. For many children this would necessarily mean missing an additional day of school before returning, and for most parents, this translates to another missed day of work. These policies reflect an ignorance about head lice and puts undue strain on a family with 2 working parents, one of whom will need to spend an extra day at home with children who should not be excluded from class. If a child is treated properly (there’s that caveat again) they should be back in school the very next day.

Now, lets address what constitutes adequate or proper treatment. I do not consider permethrin or other pyrethroid pesticides reliable for addressing live activity in my practice. I see treatment failure far too often with this approach. Not only does the treatment fail, but from a safety perspective, I still cannot endorse putting pesticide on children. It makes me squeamish. Most parents will comb the hair with the shoddy comb that comes with the pesticide product. In my honest opinion, those combs are there to ensure that parents continue to buy more product because in a million years I can’t imagine removing all the nits from the hair with a plastic comb. Using a good comb and a quality non-toxic product, parents can successfully treat their children at home. But for parents for whom time is an issue, professional treatment, though not inexpensive, is a wonderful option.

A fast answer to lice will cost some money, but will help get your children back to school more quickly. Be careful when choosing someone to treat your family because some services charge by the hour and this leaves you open to a shocking final bill over which you may not have much control. Also, ask questions about follow up after treatment and what it entails. Many providers will recommend outlandish things, like sleeping in a shower cap filled with olive oil for 3 weeks or some other such crazy process.

Treating at home can be done successfully with the right tools and products. Please feel free to contact me for more information njlicelady@gmail.com.

 

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There are some common questions about head lice that I hear over and over again. I thought it would be a good idea to address some of them in a blog entry so that perhaps people trolling the Internet for head lice information might find some solid answers. Here they are:

Q: “Why are head lice so prevalent these days? When I was a kid, we never heard about this problem!”
A: My hypothesis is that treatment failure is far more common these days than it was decades ago when the parents of today were children. Over-the-counter pesticides have become increasingly less effective and therefore the incidence of recurrent or recalcitrant lice have increased dramatically. Another factor in the lingering of outbreaks is the fact that some parents still find themselves reluctant to inform the social circles of which their child is a part, and last but not least, the AAP no longer endorses “nit-free” policies. This has resulted in some districts allowing children into school with active cases of head lice. When this is the case, the problem continues to spread.

Q: “Is this the season for lice?”
A: The answer, regardless of when the question is asked, is “yes.” Head lice don’t have a definitive season, since their environment is never subject to frost. It is a balmy 98.6 degrees on our heads 12 months a year. We do see periods when there are more diagnoses (back to school being one), but statistically, anywhere from 1-3% of school-aged children have lice at any given time during the year.

Q: “Can I get lice from standing next to someone with head lice or riding in the car with them?”
A: No. Human head lice do not jump or fly. 90% of cases are transmitted directly from head to head by direct contact with an infested individual. The second greatest mode of transmission is sharing of personal items that have contact with the head of an infested individual. Less than 2% of cases are transmitted through the environment.

For more information on facts and myths of head lice, please  send me an email at njlicelady@gmail.com.

 

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