It is no coincidence that September is National Head Lice Prevention Month. With the start of a new school year comes the increased risk and reported cases of head lice. We caught up with Carol Gilbert, co-owner of Fairy LiceMothers, who had some useful tips for prevention as well as detection and treatment.
Head lice (louse is the singular) are a parasite, specific to humans. While there are other types of lice that infest other animals and other parts of the body, head lice feed only on human blood from the scalp.
Infestation begins when a pregnant louse crawls onto your head from another infested person and lays eggs every day. Those eggs hatch into babies but quickly become reproducing adults in just one week. The eggs and babies are not contagious until they mate, become pregnant, and continue their life cycle.
“Sit your kids down once a week and comb through their hair with a nit comb (found at any drugstore) and a little detangling conditioner,” said Gilbert.
An itchy scalp is not always the only indication of a lice infestation. Gilbert said itching is an allergic reaction to the bugs’ saliva, similar to mosquito bites; some people do not itch when bit.
Gilbert said she thinks lice infestation has become worse. “People are not checking their kids regularly,” Gilbert said. “Some people have lice for months before it is detected; and in three or four weeks, the whole family can be infected—mom, dad, grandma, siblings.”
She said prescriptions from the doctor are not working well anymore because bugs have developed an immunity to the formulas; this prompted the “super bug” scare with most medications, antibiotics and treatments years ago.
“Nothing kills lice eggs; it’s a manual process, strand-by-strand, with a wet comb,” Gilbert said. Lice cannot be washed away. A louse can hold its breath for up to eight hours; a shower or bath does not get rid of lice.
“Doctors do not want you in their office [for lice] and it’s just not necessary,” Gilbert said. “You do not need to see a doctor for lice; however, if you are not sure what you are doing for proper treatment you should get help from a professional.” She also recommended checking out the video on their website (www.fairylicemothers.com) to help you through the process of at-home removal.
“The longer you wait, the worse it gets,” said Gilbert. “Lice is considered a dirty thing, a stigma; it’s important to communicate an infestation with everyone you have been in contact with for the last couple of weeks, especially play dates, a school nurse or a camp counselor.”
Gilbert, along with Michelle Villella and Christine Bonanno, founded Fairy LiceMothers in 2008 as an at-home service in Oceanside. The response was overwhelmingly popular (great for them; bad for you) that they have opened three local stores (Oceanside, Deer Park and Glen Head) and one store in Austin, TX, since then.
“Every human is susceptible to lice unless you are bald,” said Gilbert. “It’s not about blaming; it’s about getting proper treatment.”
Visit www.fairylicemothers.com or call 866-561-0492 to speak with Gilbert or any of the other Fairy LiceMothers to learn more about head lice.