Back to school is a very busy and exciting time as our children are exposed to a new curriculum, new teachers and new friends. But it’s also a time of the year when our kids are exposed to new germs and new health concerns such as head lice. Second only to the common cold, an infestation of these contagious parasites is a leading cause of absenteeism among elementary school children.
Head Lice Considered “Super Lice”
Head lice is not an indication of poor personal hygiene; they actually thrive in clean environments. Infestations can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social status or hair length. And now some are even calling lice “the new four letter word” as these tiny bugs are becoming more and more immune to over the counter treatments. They’re turning into indestructible “mutants” that are overwhelming parents nationwide.
A new report from the Journal of Medical Entomology says that “super lice” have turned up in more than 42 states where 100% of the lice tested were resistant to over-the-counter treatments. Six other states, including New Jersey, found lice to be resistant to OTC treatments.
Back to school after summer and after winter vacations are the busiest time for head lice, so you’ll want to be prepared with an alternative treatment plan.
Alternative Treatments for Head Lice
- Metal Tooth Lice Comb- Combing is one of the best ways to get rid of head lice. You must be thorough, so expect to spend at least an hour on a full head of hair. Do this once a week for 3 weeks.
- Olive Oil or Coconut Oil- Apply to your child’s scalp and hair and leave it in overnight under a shower cap. The oils will smother the lice. In the morning, use the nit comb to comb out the dead bugs.
- Essential Oils- Mix 2 ounces of olive oil or coconut oil with 15 to 20 drops of an essential oil. Apply to the scalp with cotton balls. Leave this mixture on the scalp and hair overnight, or for at least 12 hours. The best oils to use are tea tree oil, lavender, clove, eucalyptus, aniseed, cinnamon leaf, red thyme, peppermint and nutmeg.
- Lice Preventive Shampoo- Stock up on a few bottles for the entire household. Keep hair in braids, puns or pony tails and never. stop. checking.
While treating heads, it’s just as important to remove any nits or lice that may be hiding in your home. Be sure to vacuum areas of the house and any furniture that was exposed. Wash clothing, towels, sheets, hats, coats, etc., in hot water and dry using high heat. Vacuum car seats and put backpacks, stuffed animals and helmets into the freezer overnight.
Last but not least, do not be afraid to tell the school nurse, coach or daycare provider so they can check the rest of the class or team and notify parents. Those who are too afraid to utter that “four-letter word” inadvertently allow the spread to continue.
So, are you scratching your head yet?
eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Treatments
The good news is that lice cannot fly or jump, they’re spread from one person to another by head to head contact. The adult lice can live up to 30 days on your or your child’s head, while making a home in your hair, each louse can lay up to 8 eggs per day. Those eggs (called nits) hatch within a week and mature a week after hatching. Without a host head, a louse lives only a day or two and nits will only survive a week; they need body heat to grow and hatch.
If you or your child still has head lice after two treatments, sores on the scalp, a fever or swollen neck lymph nodes, visit eMedical Urgent Care. Walk-in care is available at our locations in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707 with convenient hours designed to fit your busy schedule.