Lice activity increasing ahead of summer activities

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Mosquitoes and ticks are the insects we usually worry about in the summer months, but experts say don't forget about lice.

Lice Clinics of America report a sharp increase over last year in people seeking treatment at Wisconsin clinics.

“Summers are really busy, school gets out, summer camps; kids are in really close contact. Then the start of the school year again, when kids go back to school, it gets really busy again,” said Andrea Florshein, who owns a Lice Clinics of America branch in De Pere.

Lice cannot jump or fly, so close head-to-head contact is the main way they spread.

If you feel you've been exposed to lice the best thing to do is get your head checked by a professional.

“Once a bug transfers over to a new host, that female louse would have to be an adult and she lays up to 100-150 eggs in her life span. So, those eggs are going to take about 7-10 days to hatch and another 7-10 days to grow up,” said Monica Veley of Nitorious B.U.G. in Green Bay.

She opened her business about three years ago after seeing all sides of head lice; from being a hair stylist, a parent, and now a lice technician.

Veley uses a comb she says every parent and teacher should have.

“I comb out all of the bugs and then I go through and make sure all the eggs are removed. Generally, that's where people reinvest because maybe they didn't get all of the eggs out,” said Veley.

Veley says less than five percent of her clients come back with lice after they’ve been treated.

At the Lice Clinics of America, technicians blast the bug with hot air.

“The only thing that lice is not resistant to are the extremes in temperature. So, heated air like ours or freezing,” said Florshein. “We have a clinic that uses an FDA cleared medical device and it uses warm air, it dehydrates everything on the head so it kills the live bugs and it dehydrates the eggs.”

Lice also don’t like peppermint scent and the clinic also uses an oil based product to kill live bugs.

Lice technicians also urge people to stay away from over the counter and prescription treatments because the insect has become resist.

Other preventative measures include keeping your child’s hair back or in a pony-tail and limit head-to-head contact.

Brushing your child’s hair with a fine comb can also help you catch an infestation early.

Lice Clinics of America report a 54 percent increase in lice activity in Wisconsin over the last year.

This statistic is based on data gathered across the company’s network of clinics.

Spokespeople say the company has treated about 22 percent more lice cases in Wisconsin compared to other states, specifically during the spring.

Other regions the company has seen an increase of treatment include: Milwaukee, the Carolinas, Los Angeles, Iowa, Tulsa, Maryland, Houston and New Jersey.

They says the increase in the data can be attributed to more awareness about the lice clinics, lice becoming resistant to over the counter products, technology (people gathering around screens/putting heads together to take selfies) and a lack of understanding about how lice spreads.

A lice infestation can happen at any time of the year, but parents may see it more when their child is in school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurses discourage against school policies that would exclude a student from school because of head lice.

The Green Bay Area Public School District’s policy on lice can be found here.