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.

 

All rights reserved 2011-2015. Material may not be reproduced without express written consent of the author.

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.

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!
All Rights Reserved 2011-2014. Material May Not Be Reproduced Without Express Written Consent of the Author.

You must tell people when you have lice. No one wants to be the one to send that email or make that phone call. Especially not when the reaction on the other end of the line might be a little overwhelming to handle. I recently treated a family and the mom did a lot of mental math around trying to figure out if she really needed to call one person in particular. Why? The person has a history of overreacting when told their children may have been exposed to head lice. Here’s the problem: if no one wants to tell you because they fear your reaction, you may end up with a bigger problem because of it. Lice outbreaks persist, in part, because people don’t inform their social circles and in doing so, they allow lice to continue to be passed back and forth between the children. If you have lice and you don’t tell the people you know that you have it, you are putting yourself at risk of getting it back despite treating it properly in your own family.

It’s a fact that lice tends to run through social circles. It is simply the nature of the beast. If we can get to a place where we react to lice just as we react to the flu or the stomach virus, we’ll be doing ourselves a huge favor. Yes, lice is annoying. Yes, I’ll even submit that it’s gross to have bugs on you. When you get past that part, what your left with is a minor inconvenience. Lice don’t cause diseases, they don’t hurt us and they don’t threaten our lives. Truly, there is nothing to be “freaking out” over. If you don’t tell people when you have lice, you risk re-acquiring the problem from either the original source, or from a member of the social circle to whom your family may have given it.

Aside from the cleaning and other things people associate with head lice, there is also the exorbitant cost most services charge to treat families. On the low end, when it’s all said and done, you’ve spent $200-$250 per head, $325 and more for the higher end. While my fees range from $125-$175 per head (soup to nuts, including product used to follow up) I prefer that families learn to treat at home on their own. It’s no different from bandaging a skinned knee or treating a common cold…parents are capable of doing this on their own. Some services claim that they only require one treatment. That’s never true. There is never a one treatment solution to lice. Every lice treatment protocol requires some kind of follow up after the initial treatment. Every one. If anyone tells you they have a one treatment solution, run!

Are you afraid to tell? There is a way to send an anonymous email to friends and family. Contact me at Contact mefor information on how to use it!

 

All Rights Reserved 2011-2014. Material May Not Be Reproduced Without Express Written Consent of the Author.

I respect physicians. There are doctors in my family, and I admire people who choose to heal others as a vocation. In general, I believe that doctors don’t receive enough respect for the amount of training they undergo and the amount of burden they carry for the welfare of their patients. There are things that doctors are wonderful at diagnosing but head lice, sadly, is not one of them. Many doctors don’t really get hands on training in the diagnosis of head lice. To an untrained eye, lice can appear to be dandruff, eczema or some other form of dermatitis. Unfortunately for the children who are misdiagnosed (and their parents) lice don’t respond to the typical treatments for any of those conditions. Today I heard about a misdiagnosis that left me with chills. In response to a child whose untreated head lice had left him/her scratching and clawing at his/her head incessantly, a physician gave a diagnosis of “sensory integration issues with features of autism.” (Jaw hitting the floor)

Yes. This poor toddler had been so plagued by lice for a period of nearly 2 months, that the itching must have been unbearable. As unbearable as the itching may have been for the child, imagine the parents who were given the erroneous diagnosis. Autism. The implications of such a diagnosis are vast. To think of a diagnosis of that nature being made because a child was dealing with a runaway case of head lice, leaves me speechless.

There are those of us who are trained in dealing with head lice. We do it every day. We know how to look, how to treat and how to soothe a family in a panic. It’s what we do. In my time as a lice treatment professional I have seen more children than I care to admit who have been falsely cleared by a healthcare professional such as a doctor or nurse. It proves what we in the lice treatment industry know…visual inspection is too unreliable, particularly when the inspection is done by someone untrained in the identification of head lice.

If you’re a parent, you know when something is “off” with your child. If you suspect head lice, find someone who specializes in head lice treatment to check him/her or learn how to properly check your own children. Statistically, 1-3% of school aged kids have lice at any given time. It’s unrealistic to expect that you will never experience the problem. In many cases, a lice treatment professional can visually identify what others may have missed. To host a head check tutorial in your home, email me at njlicelady@gmail.com. Invite some friends and learn how to identify, prevent and even treat head lice on your own.

 

 

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