June Bug: The Head Louse

Head lice don’t fly around waiting to land on their next unsuspecting meal like those large beetles we see buzzing low over our lawns in June. They live and breed all year long, but when summer rolls around, they get more opportunities to spread their own particular brand of love (not that any of us appreciate the sentiment). Mostly, it’s our little ones who are lice magnets, right? They pick them up and unwittingly spread them around to their classmates during the school year, but when summer rolls around, they get a whole new pack of pals. Their social circles expand to include children they may have never met before through day camps, overnight camps, sleepovers, play dates, etc.; and if they’re enrolled in several camps throughout the summer, their circle will continue to widen.

But don’t freak out and start canceling yet! Get some facts about how head lice spread, some basic head lice prevention techniques and how you can do your own pro-active screenings.

  1. Lice won’t be winning any medals for the long jump–or the short jump, for that matter. Lots of people seem to believe that, like fleas, lice jump from one person to another like a bunch of Mexican beans, but that’s just not true. Head lice don’t jump at all. They can’t fly either. Lice transfer from one host to another through direct head-to-head contact; for instance, when children sleep together or play in very close contact. And their eggs (nits)–those little white things that stick like glue to the shaft of the hair–can’t move at all. Once the eggs are laid by the female louse, they’re connected to the hair with a cement-like material, so they’re not going anywhere.

  2. An ounce of head lice prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? So, remind your kids to avoid sharing brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, etc. with their friends, and to stick with their own pillow and sleeping bag. If your child has access to hooks on which to hang their things at camp, encourage them to use the hooks rather than just tossing everything in one huge mess of a pile (it’ll save time at the end of the day, too!).

  3. Check out some head lice mug shots online and make sure you know what lice actually look like in their three stages (nit, juvenile and adult).

  4. Lots of people do head checks for ticks during the summer months, so how about a lice check, too? Once a week or so is probably all you’ll need, but if you know lice are keeping company with kids in your child’s school or camp, you can do them more often. Once you know what head lice look like, you should be able to spot them. Start looking at the back of the head near the neck and behind the ears. Sometimes you’ll see red bumps or little sores on the neck and/or scalp where your child has been scratching.

  5. Don’t panic and don’t be embarrassed if you find these little buggers camping out on your child. Lice happen–and they can happen to anyone. They are equal opportunity pests, but they’re not impossible to get rid of and help can be on the way with a phone call. We’re discreet and we’re thorough, and we can help you put lice in your rearview.

Summer should be a fun, stress-free time for your child, so take a little of your time to do some checks and educate the kiddies about sharing and not sharing certain personal items; and if lice happen to you, just give us call. We’ll get you back to your summer fun in no time.