I admit that when I hear the words “head lice” I get squeamish. However, the fact is that millions of North Americans have a head lice experience every year, so it’s a lot more common a problem than people would like to admit. However, experts are warning that there’s a new kind of “super lice” that is spreading throughout the United States that has built up an immunity to the traditional, front-line medications.
The over-the-counter treatments that used to work 100 percent of the time on lice prior to 2013, only appears to work on a quarter of the cases when it comes to “super lice”. That doesn’t mean there aren’t treatment options available, it’s just that they are more expensive and require a doctor’s prescription.
So what to do? Doctors and experts say prevention continues to be the best defense against head lice.
Head lice spreads by direct head-to-head contact with someone who has a case. They can also be passed on through shared personal items like hairbrushes, combs, towels, clothing, and hats. This is because head lice do not hop, jump, or fly but they crawl very quickly and latch onto hair. They tend to spread quickly at schools because kids have close contact with one another in the classroom and on the playground. That’s why parents should be extra vigilant.
Here are a few tips that can help reduce the risk of getting lice:
– Keep long hair tied up in ponytails, braids or bun.
– Use hairspray to keep stray hairs contained.
– Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo, or make a spritz and spray your hair. Tea tree oil acts as a natural bug repellent.
– Watch for the common signs of lice – if your kids scratch their head repeatedly or complain of their scalp being itchy it’s time to look closely at their scalp.
– Regularly inspect your children’s hair. The best way is to lather hair with conditioner and comb the hair with a fine-tooth comb and then wipe it on a paper towel. You can also detect lice by creating a vertical part in the nape area of the neck and combing around the neck, ears and crown of the head.
Please share this information with your friends as a reminder that prevention and early detection is key at keeping the pests away!