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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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!

 

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There has been much debate about the possible cause of the steady increases in the rates of Autism we have seen in the United States. Some recent studies have drawn a link between maternal exposure to pesticides and Autism. I have been saying for years that I believe the future consequences of pesticide use for the current treatment of head lice may well be devastating. I had no idea the amount of research that had already been done.

Food for thought: not only are parents exposing their own children to pesticides repetitively which may, down the road, be implicated in the rates of Autism skyrocketing for the offspring of the girls of today, but they are also introducing more pesticides into the environment thereby exposing entire communities to higher levels of pesticide in the water table. Since girls get lice more often than do boys, it is especially concerning because a girl is born with all of her eggs in her body. The pesticide exposure on her body (particularly repetitively) is potentially exposing her ova (eggs) to the pesticide. This is in addition to environmental exposure and exposure through the food supply. Is this enough to increase her odds of having a child with Autism? Are you willing to take that chance for her or for your future grandchildren?

These are two interesting articles worth having a look at:

This article addresses mothers who use pyrethroid flea shampoos during pregnancy. To clarify, permethrin and pyrethrum are pyrethroid pesticides.

This article discusses glyphosate, Monsanto’s Round Up.

If you’re so inclined, there is a lot of information out there about pesticide use/exposure as it relates to Autism as well as birth defects and congenital malformations.

Remember it is not necessary to treat head lice with anything toxic. NJ Lice Lady is a resource for safe and effective head lice treatment and we make it accessible to everyone. There is no need to spend more money for professional treatment when you use good, reliable and safe products. Check out our approach to lice treatment and view our options. Have questions? mail Contact me
 

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Effective and affordable head lice treatment in NJ is hard to come by. There are many people who will say they are professionals, but I have noticed that many of them don’t really understand the science of head lice themselves. Sadly, that doesn’t keep them from charging some outrageous fees for their services. It also doesn’t make them successful at what they do. When I started out as a lice treatment professional, I purchased a franchise and opened an office in Clark, NJ. It seemed like a good idea at the time. What I learned, unfortunately, is that the high overhead of running a franchised business makes being profitable nearly impossible. Despite having raised my fees, I was unable to sustain the business.

From all things, we learn. I saw in the years that I was running that office, that many families simply could not afford to treat their children professionally. It made me sad to see children being treated with toxic chemicals simply because of the economics of head lice treatment. The worst part was knowing that those same children would likely experience treatment failure because of the unreliability of those products. It didn’t seem fair.

The truth is that lice is a big business. If you believe some things I’ve read, it’s a billion dollar a year industry. Why do drugstores carry products that don’t work? Well, if you have to keep buying them, they get to keep making sales, don’t they? I hate conspiracy theories, but the CDC and AAP still, despite mountains of evidence that shows pesticide resistance is a solid fact, continue to recommend Permethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide (Nix and Rid) as a first line treatment. Why? Why have they not endorsed, unequivocally, non-toxic lice treatment? There have been 3 new prescription lice products approved by the FDA in the time I’ve been treating lice professionally. Why are we pushing possible carcinogens onto children’s heads when a simple non-toxic product like dimethicone, found in the product I use and sell (KaPOW! Lice Attack Solution), kills lice in minutes and is as safe as any styling product found in a salon? Is it because treating lice right the first time would mean that people didn’t keep buying more product? I hope not.

The same holds true for lice treatment professionals. They want you to think it’s magical mystical stuff we do. Outside the “wheelhouse” of the average parent. It’s not. That’s why I want to teach parents what to do instead of treating their kids for them. Some parents don’t want to know and don’t want to deal with it. That’s fine. Those parents have the resources to pay someone to do it for them and that’s great. I love treating lice and will happily help a family that way! For the parents who don’t have the money to pay someone to do it for them, there needs to be a reliable alternative that is affordable for them. This is why I created my Head Lice 101 DIY approach to head lice treatment. I’m here to help and I want to make this less burdensome and more cost-effective for families in NJ. If you’re interested in learning how to detect lice proactively, and you’d like to host a parents’ workshop in your home, email me at Contact me

 

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Parents in Scotch Plains and neighboring towns have been battling a pesticide resistant strain of lice since the beginning of the year. While not uncommon, it is certainly frustrating for parents and children. Additionally, it re-allocates the precious time resources of the school nurse. Instead of dealing with the very important functions of medicine administration, caring for sick and injured students and completing State mandated paperwork, the nurse is forced to perform head lice screenings. There are a few issues with this:

  1. A visual inspection is not always perfect. It can’t be. This means that, despite spending hours doing these screenings, the nurse may well miss something.
  2. Relying on the school nurse allows parents to remove themselves from the process of lice detection. In fact, parents are crucial in this process and have the ability to do a far better job at home than the nurse can do in school.
  3. Parents assume that if lice is found in school, they will be notified about it by the nurse or administration and that is not always the case. It also makes parents feel that their responsibility to notify other parents of their child’s lice is nullified because they believe the school will notify their child’s classmates and friends.

Unfortunately, when a letter does come home from the school, the outmoded recommendation always included in that letter is to consult your doctor or pharmacist about lice “shampoos.” There is no such thing as a “shampoo” that kills lice. What is being referenced in that letter are the OTC pesticides that are found in every drug store in America. The truth is, they don’t work reliably anymore. Yes, some people have success with them. Sadly, far more people are experiencing treatment failure with them. Head lice in the US have become incredibly resistant to the pyrethroid pesticides found in drug stores. It is my personal and professional opinion that the resistance to these pesticides is behind the increasing frequency of longstanding outbreaks within communities.

The outcome of repeated treatment failures is this: children being repeatedly exposed to pesticides on their bodies (scalp) and parents who become so exasperated they stop trying, thus magnifying the problem. It is not necessary to pay for professional treatment, though some families may prefer this. NJ Lice Lady is a resource for parents who want to treat on their own as well as those who prefer a full-service approach. From our DIY, Head Lice 101 to simply being able to purchase a reliable, safe and non-toxic product along with a GOOD nit comb, I can help parents who have been struggling with head lice. You can reach me by email at njlicelady@gmail.com.

 

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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.

 

 

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Today I was doing my usual look through Google Analytics to see how people have found my blog. Someone was referred here after querying “can you use Ulesfia and Nix together”. I wish I had been standing here face-to-face with that person. My answer? NO!! I don’t like either of those products because they are both toxic. Setting that aside, they are both supposed to do the same thing…kill live lice. Even though the Nix packaging claims to kill nits (lice eggs) we know that it doesn’t do that reliably at all. It doesn’t even kill live bugs reliably.

There are strains of head lice which appear to be pesticide resistant. My guess is that the person who input that search query was dealing with one of them. When using a lice treatment product, if you still see live activity after the first application, you must assume that you have a resistant strain of lice and move on to something else. And by something else, I don’t intend for people to move on to a stronger, more toxic pesticide! There are very effective, non-toxic treatments available. There are also safe, non-toxic products available over-the-counter.

If I could have a moment of face time with every parent who is dealing with head lice infestation in their family, I would tell them that it is not necessary or even preferable to utilize toxic agents to eliminate lice. Of course when it’s found on the shelves of a pharmacy or written on a piece of paper by a physician, it seems simple and safe. Take note: there are pesticides out there that are highly toxic and available by prescription. I have had parents in my office sheepishly admitting that they checked their children’s breathing hourly while they slept with a pesticide that stunk so badly they feared their kids would suffocate from it. I have read the warnings about pesticides so toxic they are banned from use on crops and yet they are readily available in a pharmacy with a prescription.

Lice don’t kill people. Lice don’t cause cancer. Lice don’t cause neurological side effects. Lice are uncomfortable, unsettling, and perhaps even distasteful. They are also easily eradicated when using the proper methods. Contact me for more information on safe and effective lice treatment! Email or njlicelady@gmail.com.

 

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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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