Dealing with Head Lice amidst Covid-19
2020 is off to a crazy start! With the Covid-19 pandemic running wild, governments all over the world are forcing many businesses and industries to suspend operations to help flatten the curve through social distancing. This includes many service businesses like Lice Clinics of Canada. As much as we are looking forward to re-opening to help families struggling with head lice, we at Lice Clinics of Canada understand the importance of the measures taken by our local government.
It’s true that Covid-19 has put a stop to many things in our lives, from going out to dinner, playing sports or other activities, or even just hanging out with friends. The good news is, with social distancing, the chance of spreading head lice is dramatically reduced. However, even Covid-19 hasn’t stopped head lice! People still have head lice and it can still be passed along from family member to family member. If not treated properly the first time, it can even be passed back and forth and back again between family members.
But fear not! Head lice can be treated successfully at home, you just need to put the required time in. Since many of us find ourselves with extra time on our hands these days, thanks to Covid-19, it should lighten the burden of a head lice infestation. Although we are not physically there to help, we wanted to help families out with a list of pointers on how to treat properly at home.
- Starting with the right product. Avoid permethrin-based products and go for dimethicone-based ones. The right product will interrupt the life cycle and give you time to comb out all the eggs before they hatch, and the new bugs start laying eggs again.
- Purchase a professional lice comb. This is very important when dealing with an infestation. Many over-the-counter products come with a free lice comb, but you get what you pay for. This free comb will cost you hours (and many times, days, and even weeks of repeated treatments) because they are not as effective at removing eggs. We understand wanting to save a few bucks, but this is not the spot to do it. We recommend a nit-free terminator comb.
- Removing EVERY egg is imperative. Most failed treatments happen because some eggs were missed while combing. This can be a very tedious job, but is the most important element in ending an infestation. We recommend sectioning the hair and focusing on one section at a time. Combing in all four directions (north, south, east, and west) is a good idea as the eggs are about the size of the hair shaft so they can easily be missed by only combing in one direction.
- You can’t end an infestation in a day! We know it’s not fun and you want it gone ASAP, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. A common mistake many parents make is giving up too soon. They feel like they got all the eggs and just stop. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The first day of combing should take the longest, but we recommend combing everyday until you have three consecutive days without finding any eggs. How long per day depends on the hair type (long, thick, and curly can be factors). Usually we recommend about an hour a day.
- Keep your child happy. A head lice infestation is no fun for parents, we have enough to do as it is. But it’s no picnic for your children either. The younger they are the more difficult it may be for them to sit for long periods of time. The older they are, the more psychological factors could be at play (embarrassment, guilt, and many others). Explain to your children that head lice can happen to anyone, at any age, gender, race, or even socioeconomic status. It’s literally like catching a cold, if you are near someone with it, you can get it too! We always recommend keeping them occupied on something else they enjoy (tablets, TV, books, toys, etc.) for kids of any age so they don’t dread it when you are ready to start combing again the next day.
- Tell your friends. We know this can be embarrassing for many people (children and parents alike). However, if someone in your household has lice, that means someone you or your children are very close with had/has it, too. There are many stigmas associated with head lice, but most are based on incorrect information. The more we talk about it and normalize it, the easier it will be to control. Many families that we come across have had lice for weeks or months, without even knowing it. They only found out because they were told by their school, daycare, friends, health care professionals, or even their hair stylist. Many are afraid to tell people because they think they will be upset. Although that may sometimes be the case, most people are thankful that they have been warned. Also, the earlier people find an infestation, the easier it is to treat (and less likely to spread to other family members). However, the most important reason to tell your friends is to protect your family from getting it again. Safe to say once you have ended your infestation, you will be around your friends again. If they don’t know to treat it, it will be a never-ending cycle.
We hope this article helps if you are in the unenviable position of having a head lice infestation in your household during the Coivd-19 pandemic. We know it’s not fun but remember…there are worse things in life then head lice!