October 13, 2012 11:42:56 PM
The state fair is in Jackson with all the joys of the season, from candied apples to deep-fried Oreos, but unfortunately I hear tell of another not so joyous seasonal visitor ... lice. I hear this from my clients who are moms with school-aged children, and I realize this isn't my usual column fare. Still, it's important considering how many parents are looking for solutions, and I promise to get back to the newest bangs and hair colors next week.
I confess that I had head lice when I was a little boy, and if you have lived past the age of 12 without them, consider yourself lucky. Parents aren't too concerned with the double Ferris Wheel when these unwelcomed little bugs come around. The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs, feeding on extremely small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. I know it sounds grotesque, but lice are as common as scraped knees and runny noses, especially in kids ages 3 to 12. Generally, they aren't dangerous and do not spread disease, but they are contagious.
The first signs of lice are most often constant scratching when the critters move around in those pigtails or Justin Beiber bangs. Quickly resulting in small red bumps and sores from irritation, lice can be seen with the naked eye. First, look for lice eggs, called nits, which are tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots. Find these before they hatch close to the scalp where the temperature is toasty and warm.
They cannot be removed by brushing or shaking. Sorry, Mom. The eggs hatch within a week or two after being laid. Lice can spread at warp speed from person to person, especially in group settings: schools, childcare centers, slumber parties, sports activities and camps. Spreading is from head-to-head contact, so sharing clothing, bed linen, combs, brushes, and hats are a definite no-no. Pets cannot get head lice, so leave your four-legged-friends alone.
The good news is that your doctor or pharmacist can recommend a medicated shampoo, cream rinse or lotion to kill the lice. After treatment you must comb out the nits with a fine-tooth comb and also repeat treatment in seven to 10 days to kill any newly hatched nits.
A few simple ways to prevent head lice or reinfestation, so you can get back to the joys of the season are: wash all bed linens and clothing in hot water; wash or dry clean stuffed animals and plush toys or put them in airtight bags for two weeks; vacuum carpets and furniture in your home and car; soak hair-care items such as combs, barrettes, hair ties, headbands and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for one hour or just throw them away.
Having head lice is not a sign of uncleanliness or poor hygiene. Those pesky little bugs are a problem for kids of all ages and socioeconomic levels. And beware, moms and dads, because you can get them as well.
The best news of all about these little creatures is that soon they will be gone just like the fun house and the saltwater taffy at the fair, but likely without the fun memories.
David Creel has 20 years of experience in the beauty industry and owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at email@example.com.