School children can be quick to make fun of any perceived difference among them and having head lice is no exception. Some get the idea from their parents that if a child in their class has head lice, the child and his or her family are somehow at fault. This can lead to the bullying of children with head lice.
October is National Bullying Prevention month, and Tanya Kensley, owner of Lice Clinics of America® – Northern Colorado, with locations in Fort Collins and Longmont, wants to stop the shaming and blaming that often takes place surrounding head lice.
“Head lice are no one’s fault,” Kensley said. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatricians, the National Association of School Nurses, and just about every other medical authority in the world are all in agreement on this. Understanding the facts about how head lice spread can help foster understanding and support for families, rather than causing blame and fault-finding.”
“A common myth surrounding head lice is that cleanliness or hygiene has something to do with contracting the condition,” Kensley said. “This just isn’t true. The CDC states that, ‘Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.’”
“The facts are: head lice only spread through head-to-head contact; head lice don’t jump or fly; and they can’t survive for more than a day without consuming human blood—it’s gross, but true,” Kensley said. “This means head lice aren’t like ants, constantly searching for sources of food and then calling their comrades to join them when they find something to eat.”
“Head lice can only move from one head to another when in close physical contact,” Kensley said. “They spread more easily among children because children play and sleep together and have more head-to-head contact than adults do.”
“The only reason a child has head lice is because they made head-to-head contact with another person, who also had head lice,” Kensley said.
One reason head lice cause distress among parents is that, until recently, they have been extremely difficult to get rid of. Traditional head lice products require multiple applications and multiple rounds of painstaking combing out of the eggs (nits) and dead bugs from a child’s hair.
“Parents need to know that these products don’t kill the eggs, so if a nit is missed, it will hatch, and a new family of head lice will be born after 7-10 days,” Kensley said. “Even worse, most head lice are now resistant to these products because they have been used for decades. A 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Entomology found that 98 percent of head lice in most of the United States now carry a genetic immunity to the pesticides in the most popular products.”
The good news for parents and children is that researchers at the University of Utah discovered a way to kill head lice and eggs using carefully controlled heated air to dehydrate them all. Their research has been commercialized as the FDA-cleared AirAllé® medical device, clinically shown to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of eggs.
Treatment using the AirAllé medical device is available at Lice Clinics of America – Northern Colorado. Lice Clinics of America is the world’s largest and fastest growing network of professional lice treatment centers. The AirAllé treatment takes about an hour and is guaranteed to be effective as long as all family members are checked for lice and if an active infestation is found, immediately treated. No hours of combing or nitpicking required.
“The facts about head lice and how they spread are simple and straightforward,” Kensley said. “Our proven AirAllé device makes treating head lice fast, safe, and easy. With same-day lice service, there is no need for parents to stress and no reason for kids to bully one another.”