Lice: What to Do When They Bite

It starts with an itch. Then another. And then, the dreaded discovery—head lice.

You’re horrified. Embarrassed. And just plain grossed out.

Of course, you’ve had friends whose kids got lice. But now it’s your child. Your house. Your problem.

Welcome to the club of literally millions of people forced to deal with this indiscriminate pest. And before you start blaming yourself, it’s important to understand a few facts about lice and lice eradication.

First, it has nothing to do with hygiene, or lack thereof. Similarly, don’t even think about blaming your pets, because they don’t get them. Most importantly, it’s important to know that while yucky, annoying and a pain in the butt to get rid of, they aren’t carriers of disease, so they’re basically harmless.

How did my child get lice?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head-to-head contact (school, slumber parties or at camp) is the most common way to get head lice. What’s less common, though still very possible, is for lice to spread by sharing clothes such as hats, scarves or school uniforms. The CDC also says that the risk of contracting lice through contact with carpet or furniture is “very small,” which bodes well for those of us who get freaked out by airplane or movie theater seats.

How do I get rid of them?
With a host of products to choose from for both eradication and prevention, if you follow the steps, you can eliminate lice on your own. However, there are now companies that provide in-home lice treatment. While more expensive than the DIY method, moms will attest that it’s a small price to pay for leaving this dirty job to the experts.

Angie Donenberg and Tami Levy own Lice Detectives, a lice eradication service that serves North Shore families who are experiencing lice for the first time, as well as parents who have tried to get rid of them themselves, but to no avail. The Lice Detectives will come to your home to determine if a member of your family has lice. From there, they will discuss your treatment options, which are charged at an hourly rate per household (not per head). If followed correctly, they say their treatment is 100% effective at getting rid of lice from head and home.

Wilmette mom Monica McGregor says she at first tried to eliminate the problem herself, but then turned to the Lice Detectives to get the job done.

“They were so wonderful and reassuring, and I appreciated that they didn’t try to push me to buy a bunch their products,” McGregor says. “Not only do they know what to look for, especially with regard to the nits, but they did the treatments in my house, even as early as 7 a.m., so my kids could go to school that day.”

What can I do to prevent this from happening?
According to Donenberg and Levy, there are products that will help repel these pesky parasites, but the best way to prevent lice is to “arm yourself with education.”

“Teach your children about how to minimize their risks of getting head lice,” they advise. “Don’t share brushes, combs and other hair items. Avoid head-to-head contact. Minimize the sharing of all personal items.”

Lastly, while lice are definitely a pain to deal with, it’s not an insurmountable hurdle. “Lice are not life-threatening and can be overcome with the right information, education and playbook,” say Donneberg and Levy. “It’s simply a 10-14 day hiccup in the road of life.”

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