By: Renae Byers, owner of Lice Clinics of America Birmingham
When preparing the kids to head back- to- school, parents usually go shopping for new clothes, buy fresh pencils and pack up their child’s backpack before the big day. The last thing on their mind is checking their child’s head for head lice. But, elementary school children have the highest risk of getting head lice, as they tend to play closely together and share items that touch their heads, making it important to be prepared for lice infestations as the kids are headed back-to-school.
It’s true, unfortunately, 6 to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. Additionally, this head-scratcher causes 24 million missed school days for kids.
So what is a parent to do when their child comes home with an infestation?
Let’s start with the basics. Head lice are parasites that feed on human blood from the scalp. Lice can attach themselves to the bottom of a single strand of hair and crawl their way up to the head. Head lice are primarily spread from head-to-head contact. This can happen by simply hugging someone who has the bugs crawling through their head. This includes close contact from putting heads together and/or sharing brushes, hats and coats. Family members often will spread it to one another due to the frequent close contact. As a single female louse can lay up to 200 eggs in 30 days, it’s important to take prevention steps in order to avoid an infestation.
In order to spot an infestation early, it’s important to perform frequent head checks. Adult lice are the easiest to spot because they are the largest. But, at the size of a sesame seed, they still aren’t that big. Although lice vary in color, they commonly appear to look grayish-white or tan. Adult head lice can only live up to 48 hours without human blood.
Once an infestation is spotted, parents need to get rid of the bugs and eggs before they spread to others. At Lice Clinics of America, we remove the bugs and eggs with a process that doesn’t use any harmful chemicals, toxins, or pesticides. We use an FDA-cleared medical device called the AirAllé. The AirAllé device kills lice and eggs through dehydration. This is a revolutionary alternative to treating head lice with pesticides, herbal lice remedies, suffocation products or lice combs. The device, which was invented by scientists at the University of Utah, kills lice and eggs through a specific combination of temperature, airflow, time and technique. Because the AirAllé device is so effective
(over 99%) at killing lice eggs (which are the hardest for traditional lice products to kill), the chances of needing a follow-up treatment are less than 1%
Staying lice free can be done by remembering not to share things like: hair brushes, hair accessories, pillows, hooded clothing, hats and costumes. Instead, parents should use prevention products daily. Parents should also keep their child’s hair up in ponytails, buns, or braids. But, the most important thing to keep in mind when preventing head lice to avoid head-to-head contact with others.
About Renae Byers:
Renae Byers, RN, is the clinic owner of the Lice Clinics of America Birmingham and Auburn locations. After working as a pediatric nurse for 20 years, Renae decided to open her own clinics to help educate her community about the myths and facts of head lice and to remove the icky headscratchers that infests so many. Appointments can be made by calling the clinic directly at (205) 783-5423.