Bullying prevention: Let’s get real about lice

(BPT) – When your kids contract head lice, the issue can extend beyond just the time and patience you need to get rid of them.

Though head lice have nothing to do with lack of cleanliness, kids can be subject to misconceptions from their peers about the pesky but otherwise harmless condition — and can face bullying at school as a result. Parents can also feel stigmatized; a recent poll found 52 percent of American parents feel judged by other parents when their children get lice.

“When your child comes home with head lice, life for classmates, friends, siblings and parents is turned on its ear,” notes nationwide organization Lice Clinics of America. “That’s why it’s so important to get rid of them quickly.”

To help change perceptions and encourage kindness as a general principle, Lice Clinics of America is launching #LetsGetRealAboutLice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month this October. In conjunction, here are some helpful tips about head lice and how it can be effectively treated.

Rather than being attracted by bad hygiene, head lice often thrive in well-washed hair. They spread indiscriminately through direct head-to-head contact, meaning anyone can contract them. The CDC reports that 12 million Americans contract head lice each year, but Lice Clinics of America feels that this number is underreported based on the number of annual treatments they provide in their more than 350 clinics in 36 countries.

Head lice carry no diseases and cause no harm other than an intense itching of the scalp. Since mature lice can hatch up to 4-8 new eggs daily, infestations can remain for weeks or months when left untreated or ineffectively treated by over-the-counter pesticide treatments and home remedies. Most lice (so-called ‘super lice’) have developed immunity to these over-the-counter products, and the pesticides that they use have been linked to health problems in children.

Treatment options have improved in recent years to avoid the application of toxic pesticides or other unsafe methods used in the past. Over-the-counter options often employ specially designed devices and combs that can kill and remove the bugs, and many have become effective against ‘super lice,’ too. One company leading the fight is Lice Clinics of America, which offers highly effective non-toxic DIY home treatment kits as well as in-clinic treatments optimized by the patented AirAllé medical device.

If someone in your home has had head lice, it may bring peace of mind to place any clothes, coats, hats, bedding, linens and stuffed animals the person has recently used in a clothes dryer for 10 minutes on high heat. More importantly, other family members should also be checked for infestation and treated if necessary.

You can help prevent head lice by discouraging or avoiding head-to-head contact. More study is needed about over-the-counter preventatives, reports the Mayo Clinic, but some believe lice are repelled by rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, citronella or eucalyptus.

Time and time again, parents and kids find that misinformation about head lice — and the trials of treating it effectively and quickly — can lead to embarrassment and shame. Children should not have to endure any bullying, let alone from a medical nuisance like head lice. Lice Clinics of America is committed to helping kids and families get back to their lives without facing the stigma of head lice infestations.