Of all the things we expect to scare us on Halloween, head lice sure isn’t one of them.
But according to health experts, we are potentially putting ourselves in harm’s way when trying on Halloween costumes.
According to WTOL, doctors have reported an increase in head lice because there are so many shoppers trying on masks and wigs, and it only takes one affected person to create a lice infestation.
“We have a lot of people going into stores right now, trying on masks, trying on costumes, and trying on wigs,” Cherie Sexton, a paediatric nurse practitioner, told the news outlet.
“A lot of people don’t give much thought into the fact that several people could’ve tried it on before them.”
This is making us re-think that Pennywise costume.
For the uninitiated, head lice are parasites found on our heads, and can be spread by personal contact or the sharing of items such as combs, brushes, hats, clothing, and, apparently, Halloween costumes.
As such, all family members can become infected if just one member of the family has it — usually via a school-age kid — and they should all be treated with a specialty comb and a kit from a drugstore, which should include an over-the-counter shampoo.
All family members can become infected if just one member of the family has it.
But it’s hard to tell whether Halloween costumes have lice unless you look really closely, and even then they can be tough to find as there are usually only a few of them. So, how do you go about buying a Halloween costume without catching lice?
WTOL suggests putting your costume or wig in a sealed plastic bag for 48 hours before wearing it, as head lice will usually die within 24 to 48 hours. After this period, throw dryer friendly items in the dryer on high heat for 45 minutes. And when you’re ready to wear the costume, put on a swim or wig cap to cover your hair and scalp — this will make it difficult for lice to penetrate.
It’s also important to note that the risk of a lice infestation can last for up to a week.
“It can go up for seven days, so if your child has been to a Halloween costume party, or they’ve been to a sleepover and somebody called and said there was somebody with lice there, make sure you check your child for the next seven days,” said Sexton.
If you do find out that you, or your kids, have lice, there are natural ways to get rid of the pesky bugs. Olive oil, for example, can get rid of lice through suffocation. Coat the infected person’s head in the oil, put a shower cap on their head and get them to sleep with it on. Lice can actually hold their breath for hours (scary!), which is why the oil should stay on the head overnight.
Another common way of getting rid of lice without using a shampoo is by combing the hair with a fine comb. This should be used in combination with olive oil, as lice eggs can’t be smothered. (Again, scary!) After sleeping with the oil on the head, separate the hair into sections and go through it slowly with the comb. It’s important that you buy an actual lice comb, as regular combs won’t do a proper job. Comb out the lice or eggs and throw them out.
And yes, you’ll want to do this for at least a week.
But if you’re really scared of catching lice, it may be best to just avoid a store-bought costume altogether and create one yourself. Didn’t you always want to make that “Stranger Things” Eleven costume anyway?
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Author: Chloe Tejada