Many parents automatically think that because the weather turns colder, head lice somehow isn’t as big of a concern. What are the risks with colder weather? Is head lice still a problem I should be worried about? Short Answer: YES!
Facts About Winter Weather and Head Lice
Fact #1 – No, head lice do not die off in the cold like many other types of bugs. Why? Lice are human parasites. As long as the humans they inhabit are warm and supplying food and shelter lice care very little about the temperature outside.
Fact #2 – Colder weather does have an impact on head lice, but not in the way you may think. It affects the way that head lice are spread. Summer camp, back to school, and spring break are all major times we see a spike in the spread of head lice. Believe it or not, winter breaks fall in the same category. Children may not be rolling around in a sandbox together outside or bumping heads playing soccer, but they are spending time with family or friends in closer confined areas doing various activities through the winter months indoors. Spreading of head lice can happen just as easily as other times.
Fact #3 – What are some of the biggest risks? Vacations spent at cousin’s houses or visiting overnight with friends are a huge risk. Make sure to pack your own pillows, blankets and towels to help prevent spreading infection. Also, wash bedding as soon as your little one returns home to be extra cautious.
Fact #4 – Winter clothing is also a major problem. Hats, gloves, scarves, hoodies and beanies are all a source for spreading lice or nits during the winter. Have you ever walked into your child’s karate, gymnastics or ballet class and noticed a huge pile of winter coats and accessories shoved by the door? Kids don’t think about keeping their belongings away from others. Teach them to hang up their stuff and keep it away from the pile up of potentially head lice infested clothing of their teammates. Do not share winter gear and teach your children to do the same.
Fact #5 – Kids at school can also pass on head lice through personal belongings. Take your child’s backpack, winter coat, gloves and hats and throw them in the dryer for 20 minutes each week. This will help keep them lice and nit free.
Fact #6 – Keep up with head lice checks on your children to make sure they aren’t showing symptoms of head lice. The most common things to look for are nits, yellow eggs at the base of the scalp. They will be the size of the head of a pin, very small and difficult to detect. They will not flake off as dandruff would, but are stuck to the hair follicle with a glue like substance. Red sores, blotchy rashes or itching may also be signs of a problem. Remember that adult lice are difficult to spot as they avoid direct light and will burrow into the scalp to avoid being detected.
Contact Lice Clinics of America with any further questions, concerns or for advice about winter cases of head lice! Our expertise can give you the peace of mind you deserve.