“When parents are confronted with head lice, they often react in a panic—we see it every day,” said Heidi Merritt, owner of Lice Clinics of America Central Arkansas. “They don’t know what to do, primarily because people don’t like to talk about head lice until they have to. Then they panic.”
“The best defense against head lice is a good offense,” Merritt said.
Indeed, since 12 million children under 13 years old get head lice each year— with 48 million children in the U.S. alone—one in four will get head lice.
“It pays to have a plan in advance,” Merritt said.
What can you do to prepare for head lice? Here are Merritt’s tips for helping to prevent an infestation:
- Use lice prevention products. New products are available in the form of sprays, rinses, and shampoos that serve as lice repellent. Lice Clinics of America offers a complete line of non-toxic products guaranteed to be effective. Their new spray, Pure Repel, is designed for use on household items like clothing, furniture, and backpacks where lice may be clinging to a strand of hair that has fallen from someone’s scalp.
- Get professional screening. Head lice are notoriously tricky to diagnose. Children can be symptom-free for weeks before the signature scratching begins. Lice Clinics of America offers screenings for a modest fee that is waived if lice are found and treatment is purchased.
- Know what works and what doesn’t. Traditional lice products are increasingly ineffective because lice have become resistant to the pesticides they use. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that 98 percent of head lice carry a genetic resistance to pyrethroids, the class of pesticides used in the most popular lice shampoos. Don’t waste money and time on them. Lice Clinics of America’s AirAllé® medical device has been clinically shown to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of eggs (nits) using carefully controlled heated air to dehydrate lice and eggs. The entire treatment takes about an hour and is guaranteed to be effective. See if there’s a clinic near you and make sure you have the phone number handy when lice strike!
- Stock your home with lice supplies. It’s common to detect head lice at night, such as bath time, when stores may be closed. Keep lice prevention products on hand.
- Talk to your friends about head lice. Silence is a significant contributor to head lice outbreaks. If your child comes home with head lice, gets treated, and you send them back to school or day care, odds are they will get lice again if other parents aren’t alerted, and their children aren’t checked. No one likes to talk about head lice, but you really should. And no one is to blame—lice afflict all social and economic groups. Watch actress Jennifer Garner’s story about meeting George Clooney when her children had lice!
“Lice happen, but they don’t have to happen to you,” Merritt said.
Spring into action this year and take steps to prevent head lice from marching into your household.