Summer Wellness: Lice, Lice Baby

by Markia Flatt on July 6, 2016 in Wellness,
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It’s what will send every parent running for the hills—those little buggers called lice. Summer is high time for lice infestation—even though school isn’t in session, camps are, and so are sleepovers and movie theaters with cloth chairs. Instead of killing yourself for weeks with the comb-throughs twice a day, washing and drying sheets, pillowcases and towels on a daily basis, head straight to Lice Clinics of America.

These pesky beings can hinder an otherwise enjoyable experience. Courtesy photos
These pesky beings can hinder an otherwise enjoyable experience. Courtesy photos

These professionals are trained in spotting lice and they can treat it on the spot. They contract with camps during the summer so they are there at check-in and make sure the kids coming into sleepaway camps aren’t infected. The day before we were there, the inspector said she was at a camp for 14 hours and they found 12 cases of lice they were able to treat right away.

When you’re hit with the reality of finding lice on one of your kids, you frantically move into military mode, running to the drugstore to pick up everything you’re told to get. Then, you’ll hear from the school nurse and other healthcare professionals, that in this day and age, the chemical treatments you buy at the drugstore only get about 50% of the bugs. They now suggest, instead, a non-chemical treatment of dousing the head in olive oil and wrapping it in saran wrap for at least six hours.

By now, you’ve probably started praying that it won’t spread to your other kids or to you. Then, you set about stripping every bed in the house, which is followed by loads and loads of towels and clothes. Wash, fold, repeat—all week long. Every day for a week or more, you comb (using lice combs you buy at the drugstore) your children and parents, morning and night.

Or…you can give up the fight and go to see nit-pickers that will comb through the hair and delouse. Not only can you finally get rid of the lice, but it is a non-chemical, 99% surefire treatment that uses a high heating device like a blowdryer to dehydrate the lice, nits and eggs.

These professionals are great at keeping Texans lice free.
These professionals are great at keeping Texans lice free.

The two owners of Lice Clinics of America,  Jessica Evans and Michelle Sunshine, are moms who went through the lice scare themselves, heard about the device that was developed at the University of Utah, and knew that Austin needed a saving grace like this. They tell me that most of their appointments are same-day appointments or next-day visits (because lice is an emergency).

For a $190 flat fee, you will be treated to the full-service delousing “spa” treatment: the hot air blow-out, a comb through and then an oil treatment that you leave in. They also send the treated person home with their own branded hair oil, which is a combination of grapeseed oil and dimethicone. The combination is non-toxic (dimethicone is used in hair shine products and conditioners), and the dimethicone kills lice. 

Summer overnight camps are hyper-aware of lice and how it can affect a whole cacophony of campers in record time. The clinic has Camp Kits, which include a full-sized preventative shampoo and leave-in conditioner to take to camp, a lice comb and free head check upon return from camp. 

“Lice can really put you over the edge. Lice is like the great equalizer; it’s in every school,” Sunshine said. Be ready if your family is under attack and seek the help of professionals next time.

Lice Information and At-Home Guide

Quick Facts:

  • Lice can’t live without a host for more than 48 hours.
  • Lice live about 30 days – eggs (nits) hatch on day 6-7 and begin laying eggs about day 16.
  • Lice cannot live off of the head for more than 2-3 days.
  • Lice do not jump or fly; they only crawl very fast.
  • A nit cannot hatch once it is pulled off of the head.
  • The human head is the louse’s only natural habitat.

At-Home Guide:

  • Bedding (sheets, pillowcases and anything that has been in contact with the sleeper) needs to be put in the dryer at the hottest setting for 40 minutes.
  • All brushes and hair accessories can be put into the freezer for 2 days.
  • Favorite stuff animals or similar items should be dried on the hottest setting for 40 minutes. Alternatively, they can go on a “vacation” for 3 days.
  • Couches that have been heavily frequented should be vacuumed.
  • Clothes worn in the last 3 days should be dried or set aside for a few days.
  • Headrests should be vacuumed or rolled with a lint roller.
  • Car seats, backpacks and bath towels should be dried or set aside.

What to do after leaving Lice Clinics of America?

  • Have your child change into a clean shirt.
  • Keep the oil on the hair for 1 hour after treatment, and then shampoo.
  • You may want to inform people you have been around so they can check themselves for lice.
  • One week after treatment, put the provided oil on the scalp for 1 hour and then wash out.

Preventative Measures:

  • Keep a lice comb for each person in the shower. While showering, run the comb through the hair 1-2x a week to dislodge any bugs.
  • Using shampoo and conditioner with tea tree oil will help deter lice.
  • Keep the hair braided, in a bun or tied up at school, sleepovers and camps.
  • Have your child bring his/her own pillow to sleepovers. It helps if the pillow is clearly marked or in an unusual color so it doesn’t get mixed up.
  • Avoid head-to-head contact.