The words "head lice" are high up on the list of words that parents do not want to hear about their child. Seeing your child with an itchy scalp makes most parents a bit panicky. More and more, however, head lice are becoming part of every day life in today's times. No one is resistant to lice and the incidence is rising in Monmouth County and Ocean County and all over New Jersey. There are reasons for the prevalence of lice today. First, lice have developed a resistance to chemical lice treatments. Parents do not always realize this and unwittingly treat their children and send them back to school with still active cases. Second, many schools have dropped their "no nit" lice policies and now allow students in to school who may not be doing proper follow-up plans. It is important for people to know where they are at most risk for contracting head lice. Following are likely places and ways people transfer head lice:
- Classrooms--children are in the highest risk category for getting head lice as lice are usually transferred from head to head contact and young children tend to socialize in close physical proximity to each other. Estimate of head lice incidence in school-age children range from 6 million to 25 million annually.
- Within a family setting--if a child has head lice, the odds are over 70% that she or he will transfer head lice to her/his mother or siblings. Lice are highly contagious. Fathers are at lower risk for getting head lice.
- At a slumber party--when a child sleeps in close quarters with another child who has a lice infestation there is a likelihood that the lice will crawl from head to head. Lice do not like to stay off the head for very long as they need human blood and temperature to survive, so if a bug leaves one head it will go directly onto the nearest person's head.
- Through group athletics--enthusiastic kids love group hugs after a softball hit, basketball victory, or a soccer goal. The head-to-head proximity facilitates the transmission of lice; some people do not have an itchy scalp and do not even know that they have an active lice infestation. Also sharing a batting helmet or softball cap may contribute to the spread of lice, although far less often than direct head-to-head contact.
- Birthday parties--although these events are part of every day life, again children are playing together, particularly younger children, and therefore increasing their chances of getting lice.
- Mat exercises--this goes for adults who attend yoga or Pilates studios and use studio mats as well as children who attend gymnastics classes or are on gymnastics or tumbling teams. People should not share mats and any mats that are used by a team should be wiped down frequently.
- On mass transit or in a movie theater--although lice can only live for one day off the head, if a person were to sit in a movie theatre seat or on a bus, train, subway, or plane seat that was inhabited by an person with lice shortly before the second person sat there, a louse may be waiting on that seat. Wiping off the seat before sitting down will knock the bug off the seat.
- Selfies--although not a major way of transferring lice due to the short time the heads are together for the camera shot, lice may have enough time to crawl from one person to another.
- Children engaging in video games--this is actually a perfect scenario for lice to travel from head to head. Children sitting side by side for hours make it very easy for a louse to leave one head and go to another one.
- Summer camp--another prime venue for the transmission of lice, particularly sleep-away camps. Overnight campers pass time hanging out on each others' beds while in the bunk. Children at day camp, though, also have ample opportunity to share lice through the day to day activities and close contact with friends.
Lice have been around for millions of years and although they are unwanted visitors, they are hearty and are likely here to stay. They are part of the perils of every day life especially for children and their families. While they do not carry disease, they are a nuisance. LiceDoctors offers you this information to you so that you will be aware of when and where you most at risk. Using hair gel or mousse or lice repellent spray when in high risk situations will help to ward off an infestation as lice bugs find it easier to latch onto clean hair. Also putting long hair up in a bun or braid makes the hair less accessible to the lice. If you find that you have lice, call LiceDoctors Lice Treatment and Nit Removal Service at 732-377-0116 in Monmouth County and Ocean County, New Jersey and we will come to your home at your convenience. LiceDoctors also makes house calls in all other counties in New Jersey and in 85 locations nationwide.