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Hill Country Health Blog

Creepy Crawlies: Winning the lice game

May 17

Written by:
5/17/2016 11:38 AM  RssIcon

You know that pang in your heart. Your daughter says her hair itches, and instantly you’re facing a long day tackling lice. One in 10 children will get lice, and it can be a very frustrating experience for parents and kids.

Buda mom, Keri, battled the bugs twice with her daughter. “We spent hours in the bathroom using Rid and combing out the dead lice. I can still hear the tapping of the lice comb against the counter years later!”

In late 2012, the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) was revised to eliminate “live head lice” from the list of communicable diseases requiring exclusion from the schools.

Karen Greenberg, a family nurse practitioner and owner of Mad Caps Lice Removal Salon in Austin, believes the state’s decision contributed to what she calls the “lice-pocalypse.” Greenberg opened the salon in 2012 when she realized what a problem lice was at her child’s school. “It’s a much needed service,” she said. “We strive to make  treatment fun. The kids get an iPad to play on and a snack. Adults get wine.”
Girl scratching head with lice bug
Greenberg is certified in the Shepherd Method of Lice Removal, which is what is practiced at Mad Caps. Using a Terminator Knit Comb and a special enzyme on the head, each strand of hair is combed through, and a free re-check is provided one week later. If each person in the household is checked for and cleared of lice, Mad Caps provides a 6-week guarantee. 

“The problem with head lice is that they’ve become resistant to the things we used to buy over the counter,” said Dr. Sue Ann Harrison, a pediatrician at Corridor Primary Care in San Marcos. “My recommendation is that if you try it once and it doesn’t work, don’t keep repeating it. You’re putting a pesticide on your child’s head.”

A new medical lotion, Sklice, that has proven to be effective can be prescribed by your doctor. It contains ivermectin, a powerful parasite killer. It can be used on kids as young as 6 months old.

Harrison said prescription treatments are safer and more effective for treating lice, but she also suggests using mayonnaise (the greasier the better) to smother the lice. “Put it on, use a shower cap and leave it in overnight,” she said. 

Although her salon stays busy all year long, Greenberg says she sees an influx in business two weeks after school starts, after Christmas break (when children get exposed to “cousin cooties”) and all summer when kids have been away at camp.

“Our mission is to take the stigma of lice away,” Greenberg said. “It’s not a reflection of your parenting or household. Lice just happens. It’s like a stomach virus.” 

Once you’ve treated your child’s hair, you still have the task of cleaning bedding, stuffed animals and hair accessories. Then you can rest and hope that these critters never visit again. 

Winning the Lice Game graphic

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Central Texas Medical Center
1301 Wonder World Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666