Parent Question: Could my child have head lice in the cold winter season?
Answer: You BET! Although is it often wrongfully assumed that head lice lay dormant in the winter months, at Lice Clinics of America take our word for it. We deal with head lice throughout the entire year. There is quite often an influx in head lice cases after holiday gatherings in fact, which occur in the middle of winter.
Parent Question: How do head lice survive in the cold?
Answer: Head lice are human parasites which means as long as their host is warm and providing food and shelter it matters little to the lice what temperature it drops to outside. In fact, head lice are commonly spread more often in winter months. Family gatherings, indoor activities with many children cramped in tight spaces, sharing and spreading lice or nits that are attached to winter clothing, and infesting blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or sleeping bags are just a few ways that head lice can be easily passed along in the winter months. Remember, lice are able to stay alive for up to 36 hours off of a human host. This makes winter clothing with lice attached to fibers more likely to spread to other clothing that is near it. Humidity and moisture play a big role in the survival of head lice and nits. When children are wearing beanies or hoodies outside, their body heat is captured inside and it can be advantageous to lice.
Parent Question: How can we stay cautious and prevent head lice from spreading?
Answer: Parents should stay on top of head lice by inspecting the child’s head often to look for signs. Symptoms of head lice can sometimes take weeks to appear. Things to look for include nits, or eggs laid near the base of the scalp. Yellowish in color they are attached to hair strands with a secretion that makes them stick to hair which means they will not easily flake off as dandruff would. When lice feed on human blood they leave traces of saliva on the scalp which can cause red rashes and irritation. Itching, red blotches and discomfort are all symptoms that point to head lice.
- Parents can also place winter clothing and gear in the dryer on a high setting for 20 minutes once a week to ward off any lice or nits.
- Talk to your kids about not sharing hats, winter coats, scarves, hoodies or any winter clothing that could pass on head lice.
- If your child does visit a friend or relative for an extended visit, make sure you provide them with their own bedding, towels, pajamas and stuffed animals.
- Head lice is much easier to eliminate if caught in the early stages. Lice Clinics of America, Medway offers head lice checks for patients who are unsure what to look for. Diagnosis can be incredibly tricky. We can help identify if you do have a problem and offer professional advice to prevent and cure head lice.