It is not unusual for lice outbreaks to follow school vacation breaks. Why?

I have provided lice treatment services in Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield, Cranford and Clark for almost 7 years. Based on my experience and my observation of trends, I believe these spikes in outbreaks after school vacations can be attributed to two main factors:

  1. Although confirmed environmental transfer of head lice accounts for a very small percentage of cases, it is my belief that during periods when more families with children are traveling, that percentage may increase.
  2. The cases that the school nurse may normally pick up on go unnoticed for a longer period of time because school is out. I believe these reasons have contributed to the recent lice outbreaks in Scotch Plains, Cranford, Westfield and Clark.

Think about those nice ladies who will braid your child’s hair on the beach. They typically use the same comb they’ve used on every OTHER child whose hair they have braided. Keep in mind every family with school aged children that is traveling with undiagnosed head lice. As a result of these things as well as other factors, post vacation lice outbreaks are rather common.

The best defense against a full scale outbreak in your home is to do regular (weekly or biweekly) head checks on your school aged children. You do a head check by combing dampened hair with a good quality nit comb. Combs with a plastic handle have teeth that are too far apart to truly be effective and furthermore, plastic combs cannot be boiled for sterilization purposes

Want to know more about how to do a head check? Reach out!

 

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With the holidays upon us, giving is on most people’s minds. As we consider the perfect gift for everyone on our list, let’s not forget that head lice are easily given during the holidays when love and hugs abound. No one should ever shy away from family because of lice, nor should any family members be shunned due to lice. NJ Lice Lady has some bits of advice on how to avoid giving or receiving anything unintentional this holiday season:

  1. DO YOUR HEAD CHECKS! And do them properly! I wish I kept track and could tell you how many families I’ve treated and the story starts like this: “My child was scratching her head and I looked through her hair and I didn’t see anything.” Sigh. Big Sigh. My job is to look for and treat head lice and don’t look for lice. I COMB to find lice or nits.Visual screening is notoriously inaccurate for ruling out lice and should never be relied on for a true evaluation of the situation. One must comb in order to properly check and one must use a HIGH QUALITY SOLID STAINLESS STEEL nit comb to do this effectively. You won’t generally find a good quality nit comb on a shelf in a major chain drugstore.
  2. If you find head lice, treat safely, effectively and treat EVERY PERSON IN YOUR HOME WHO HAS LICE: Every member of your household with hair longer than 1/8″ must be checked using a comb to properly rule out or diagnose lice. Contrary to what some lice services will tell you, only family members who actually have lice need be treated. It is unnecessary to treat anyone who doesn’t have lice or nits in their hair. Of course, the people selling you the extra product will have an interest in seeing everyone in the family treated! Spending time and effort (and money) to treat one person when multiple family members are affected is a waste of all above-mentioned resources. Sadly, the traditional go-to, OTC pesticide treatments have become much less reliable than they were in the past. NJ Lice Lady recommends using KaPOW! Lice Attack Solution, a non-toxic, oil-based product that reliably and safely eliminates live lice.
  3. Inform others with whom your family has had close contact: It’s not just the nice thing to do, its the SMART thing to do. If your family has been in close enough contact to give lice to someone, eventually your family will be close enough to get it back.

Got questions about how treat head lice or how to detect head lice? Do you need a professional resource to help lighten your load during this hectic time of year? Reach out for help, even if it’s just advice! Contact NJ Lice Lady at (908)548-4480 or send an email:

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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Recently, NJ lice outbreaks have surprised parents in Scotch Plains, Westfield, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside. This is not unusual at this time of year, with kids finishing up summer camp and many children returning home from sleep away camp. Unfortunately, the outbreaks are often left to spread when parents or camp/school nurses are conducting visual head checks on children. A visual screening is not always reliable and may lead to cases of lice going undetected until significant live activity alerts a parent to the problem. Typically, by the time there is a large enough number of live lice to tip off a parent or caregiver, that case of lice has already to spread to a number friends and family members. The other unfortunate point is that many times head lice, even in later stages of infestation, is often misdiagnosed as dandruff or another scalp condition. As one mother recently told me, her child was scratching furiously and upon taking the child to the doctor, the mother was given a prescription for an anti-dandruff preparation. The child had head lice. This story has been repeated to me many, many times. With the current situation, it looks like there could be many NJ lice outbreaks from September through November. The good news? This problem is easily treated, easily detected and contrary to popular belief, does NOT have to take over anyone’s life for weeks on end!

Not every person with lice will develop the allergic reaction to the bug’s saliva that causes itching to occur. If you are the parent or caregiver of a school-aged child, particularly girls, you should be checking your child weekly with a good quality, solid stainless steel nit comb. If you are not doing this, you are putting yourself in the position of not finding lice until they have spread through your household to several family members. Most likely to contract lice are siblings and mothers of infested children. Fathers, more times than not, will get the “buy” on this problem. They still need to be checked if there is lice in the family, but they are much less likely to get head lice.

Do you have questions about something you’ve found on your child? Do you want to learn how to do a proper head check and keep lice from becoming a family-wide problem? Do you know someone currently struggling with lice in their family? NJ Lice Lady is a local resource for lice treatment and education in Union County, NJ. I work with families to end their lice problem and help them move on to better things. Call (908)548-4480 or email njlicelady@gmail.com

to schedule an appointment or to find out how you can help your social circle avoid the inconvenience of an outbreak this fall.

Check out this handy video, produced by The Center for Lice Control to see more about proper head checks: Click here

All Rights Reserved 2011-2014. Material may not be reproduced without express written consent of the Author.