Back to school time is a busy time for parents. There is always lots to do to get kids ready to return to the classroom—new clothes, supplies, and the rigors of getting back on a schedule of getting ready each morning.
It’s also a busy time for head lice, according to Mike and Tami Mantia, owners of Lice Clinics of America® – North Pittsburgh. Tami says, “Kids get head lice over the summer, and when they return to school, the lice spread like crazy. It happens every year. We are here to help you get rid of lice.”
We want you to know that there are some things you can do to reduce the risk that your child will be one of the unlucky ones during the first few weeks of the school year.
“We tell parents every year that the most important thing they can do to curtail head lice is to communicate,” Tami said. “Talk to other parents, teachers, school nurses, and administrators about the school’s lice policy and what to do when a child has head lice. Having a plan for what to do in the event of an outbreak can reduce the panic, blaming, or silence that can make things worse.”
Mike also recommends frequent lice screenings by a professional. “Lice and eggs (nits) are very difficult to see by the untrained eye, and it can take a few weeks for symptoms like itching to develop,” Mike said. “Early detection can make treatment easier and can prevent lice from spreading to others. As more lice are born, they start looking for new homes.”
It helps to understand how lice spread. “Lice only spread through head-to-head and hair-to-hair contact,” Mike said. “They can’t jump or fly. Children get them more often because they touch heads more often than adults do.” Lice can also spread through kids sharing hair care products like combs and brushes, and clothing like hats and helmets, but this is rare and only happens if a strand of hair on an item has a live louse on it.
You can also reduce the risk that your child will get head lice by shrinking the target. “Keeping hair close to the head—in a bun or braids—can help,” Tami said.
There is also a new generation of lice prevention products that can be used regularly or just at high-risk times like back to school. In our clinic we offer non-toxic, pediatrician-recommended liquid gel in a no-mess dispenser that makes application fast and easy. If used weekly, this product will keep lice at bay.
If you do find head lice on your child, don’t panic, and don’t blame yourself or other parents or children. “Our message to parents and children alike is always, ‘you didn’t do anything wrong,’” Tami said. “It’s true, and it’s proven that lice have nothing to do with cleanliness or hygiene. They will spread where ever they can to survive.”
You also don’t have to panic because head lice are easier to get rid of than ever, thanks to Lice Clinics of America’s FDA-cleared solution, the AirAllé® medical device. It’s been clinically shown to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of eggs (nits) using precision controlled heated air to dehydrate lice and eggs. Best of all, it does it all in a single treatment that takes about an hour, and it is guaranteed to be effective.
“If you come in for a lice screening and we find lice or eggs on your child, we can provide treatment on the spot, and you’ll leave the clinic lice free,” Tami said.