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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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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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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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