Last year, I went to a haunted house attraction for Halloween. Working in the professional lice treatment field, the part I found scariest was when everyone had to pass through a tight space with fabric that brushed against everyone’s head. Horrified, all I could think was “we will definitely be checking for lice after this!” When it comes to the risk of head lice Halloween costume masks shared among excited hyper kids may be a haunting sight for moms...can you get lice from sharing masks or costumes?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET LICE FROM HALLOWEEN COSTUME?
As always, the big lice risks are hugging, selfies, and horseplay - activities where the Halloween heads touch. Head lice cannot jump or fly, so they usually stay in the hair, passing directly from person to person. When it comes to catching head lice costumes, masks, and hats that are shared directly between people, like when trying on a potential costume, can potentially transmit lice from one head to another. Can wigs get lice? Wigs are like hats; they are in direct contact with your hair, but lice cannot live on them for more than a day, so you won’t likely find lice in wigs. When there is no access to a human scalp, any head lice on an inanimate object will die within about a day, so lice don’t survive long on dirty clothing.
TIPS ON HOW TO PREVENT HALLOWEEN LICE
- Avoid trying on costumes from rental shops or in retail stores where others may have tried them on as well. Rely on accurate measurements to get a good fit!
- Once home, isolate your costume and accessories for 1-2 days so any lice on them will die (head lice can only survive 24-48 hours off a human head).
- Keep your mask to yourself: don’t share items that touch the hair. Give items 36 hours before someone else wears them; that’s long enough for any lice on them to die.
- If you may have been exposed to lice, don’t just check the hair one time! For the first few days the eggs are too undeveloped to see with the naked eye, so keep checking for at least a week.
- Be especially on the lookout for signs of lice if your child has gone to a Halloween party or has been in a school Halloween parade. Lice are generally passed from one head to another and young children are the primary candidates.
- Children with long hair are the most likely to pick up lice as the hair is more accessible to the the bugs. These creepy crawlers find the hair and shimmy up to your head to feed and reproduce. Pull hair up into a bun or braid.
- Don’t rely on itching to tell you! Itching usually begins weeks after catching head lice. In addition, not everyone feels itchy. The more allergic you are to the saliva secreted by the lice upon feeding on the blood in your scalp, the itchier you will be.
If you are worried about lice, your Halloween costume should be on your radar for this holiday. While vectors are not the primary means of transferring lice, there is always that possibility. We do see a slight uptick in the incidence of head lice after the holiday. The occurrence of lice can be lessened by following the above-mentioned prevention tips. For prevention, we recommend lice treatment products like repellent sprays and shampoos. If you do spot evidence of lice, call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537. DIY lice treatment is tricky; treat yourself and outsource it!