In my life as a camp director I wear a lot of different hats. And from time-to-time one of those hats is my lice hat — no pun intended.
Since camp is a place where health, safety, and sanitation are a concern, it’s only natural that issues concerning lice are well understood by myself, the administration, our medical staff, counselors, and even parents.
And boy have I gotten an education in that over the years. So much so, in fact, that my friends consider me the resident lice expert.
But I couldn’t have gotten to that point without the help of the wonderful people at Nit Fairies, a Richmond, Virginia-based business that we’ve worked with for a few years.
I’ve blogged about the Nit Fairies before, and why we feel so strongly about 1) screening all campers for nits and lice when they arrive, 2) contracting the Nit Fairies professionally to help guard against and deal with lice, and 3) how much we love the Nit Fairies!
Bringing it all back home
But I hadn’t yet experienced lice in my own home as a parent — until recently!
I did have lice a couple of times as a kid, at least twice at camp, and once at home in middle school
Now that my eldest son, Mason, is in pre-K, there’s more of a possibility of lice in my home now. It’s so common in young children (and Mason is a very lovable child at that, who gives lots of hugs)
well, we got the e-mail from the school that yes, there are some confirmed cases of lice at school right now.
After asking some questions and realizing how closely exposed Mason has been, we decided to pack up and drive to Richmond (Midlothian, to be exact) to see our friends the Nit Fairies to get screened and to get the latest scoop on lice.
I had never been to their actual office; we’ve only worked with them on site at camp. But I sent the owner, Beverly Man, a text on a Saturday, and she got us right in the next day!
Crystal, one of the women at Nit Fairies who always comes to camp, was there to greet us and screen us. She screened us very thoroughly, and in the meantime I learned even more about lice, and got to explore their beautiful office space.
First, the office! It was bright, open, spacious, and inviting. It was also private, and not super clearly marked on the outside in case families felt self-conscious about being seen walking in to a lice screening/treatment office. There was a huge waiting room with lots of toys and activities to engage my sons while we waited.
Then we were taken back to the wide open screening/treatment room, complete with a hair salon-style hair washing bowl, and salon-style hair dryer. This room also had lots of kids’ toys and activities, as well as fun kids’ music playing! The atmosphere felt casual, inviting, and not at all intimidating or scary or upsetting — just what I would want if I had lice and was upset and needed to be treated.
Next up were some things I learned (or already knew but had an updated take on!) In my role as a camp director I do feel I know way more about lice than the average person. We have to take such careful precautions to prevent it at camp that it’s always a topic that we’re researching and implementing.
But I learned even more! So here are some little factoids in case you find yourself potentially exposed to lice:
- If a child has lice, his mother is 80% likely to get it, while the father is only 2% likely to get it.
- The lice bugs can’t live more than 48 hours without a meal (good news for places like schools that close up for the weekend!)
- If a louse comes off of a head, they are more likely to stay on fabric (clothing, soft car seats) vs. harder surfaces (wood floors, leather seats).
- Vacuuming mattresses, car seats, upholstery etc., is the best way to get rid of them in your home.
The wily louse
In addition to the above, it’s an established myth that lice can jump or fly — they can’t. They’re crawlers, but that’s it.
Additionally, static electricity can propel them off your head. So if you take off a sweatshirt and your hair is sticking up and staticky, it can send the lice off one head and onto another! (this is actually where that above-stated myth comes from). Inflatable bouncy houses and gymnasiums have extra static in them, so lice are more easily spread in places like that.
An article came out this summer about a mutant lice that is resistant to over-the-counter treatments found at the drugstore. This is actually old news, and the lice have been resistant to that stuff for many years now. In fact, a lot of information or what people think they know about lice and nits is very dated.
Lice is on the rise; the Nit Fairies are treating 10-12 families per day! In Virginia, families from as far as Roanoke have traveled to see them.
The Nit Fairies’ treatment includes a thorough wash with a treatment oil, followed by a thorough comb-out. They give follow up instructions on what to do at home, and then anyone treated comes back in about a week for another comb-out.
Thankfully, my family was all lice free, but had any of us had it, I would have felt very safe knowing I was in the best hands! We highly recommend this company, and now that I have experienced their actual office, I can recommend them even more! They’re always open to answering questions and giving advice as well, so don’t hesitate to be in touch with them if you need them 🙂
I hope this helps you should you be confronted with nits or lice and helps make clearer why we’re so vigilant on the topic for camp.
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls