Michelle Rupp: Something else that is prime for wintertime, I would think, and this has to do with our kids- and this is not a pleasant topic to bring up- head lice.

Dr. Chad Rodgers: Everybody’s going to be doing this (scratches head) by the end of the segment.  

MR: But you know, is it fair to say that this is the time of year when kids are more susceptible to contracting head lice?  

CR: Right, it’s a time of the year where kids are indoors a lot more, and then together a lot more, and in close contact a lot more. Even though it’s not spread as easily with sharing of caps and things that we use over our head. It is the time of year that we tend to use those a little bit more. So, anything that kind of brings kids in very close contact, especially their heads in close contact together- whether it’s playing or sleepovers or whatever they’re doing- It’s a time of year where we start to see head lice. We do see it all season, but we’re all indoors a little bit more. A little bit more together and it always leads to a little bit more of all the good stuff.  

MR: So, I’m sure you’ve been on the other end of that phone when a mom has called and said, “What do I do?” And what do you do? I know there are some over the counter things and I guess it just kind of depends on the stage the lice are in?  

CR: Right. There’s a lot of things that can mimic or look like lice. It is sometimes mothers and fathers’ greatest fears. School nurses, you know, it just becomes a full-time job for them when there is a lice outbreak. So, they also sort of dread it. But often they are a good source to talk to about the treatment of head lice. So, number one, anybody can get head lice. Short hair, long hair, rich, poor, bad living conditions, good living conditions. So, we’re all susceptible. Children, preschool children, elementary school children are at particular risk because of the things that they do. I mean you and I don’t hang out and put our heads together for a long period of time, which is what you really need is that close contact. So, once a case is identified, it’s important to treat. There are a lot of treatments available over the counter. There are some that are very safe- that are actually medicines that kind of kill the louse or the lice. Which is the bug that lays the eggs. And then those hatch and produce more and then you get these kind of white nits. You get the eggs that are attached real closely to the hair shaft. So, there’s a lot of natural methods. A lot of people would use things like olive oil and mayonnaise. And just kind of try to smother the lice. But you still really have to go finely through the hair and remove those nits and those eggs with a lice comb. Which is a very grueling process.

One thing to remember is that the louse or the lice that are on your scalp- they’re not deadly. They’re not the worst thing in the world. This is treatable. This is something you can take care of. But they are very bothersome and can be very worse. And they also often lead to kids being pulled out of school for long periods of time until they can come back and be louse-free. Or nut, the egg, or nit free. And so, it’s relatively hard to spread even though it’s spread more easily among that age group. But sometimes schools will not allow the kid to come back to school. And that could make it a short season when we’ve already been out because of covid. And putting kids out of school, you know, consulting with your doctor, seeing what the best treatment is. Make sure that it’s not something else like dandruff or something like that.  

MR: And just because a child comes home with it, it does not necessarily mean the household is doomed, right? That, every person in the household is going to get it?  

CR: Right. But it is good to go ahead and treat the child or the person who has the case of lice. But also, you know, it’s okay to go ahead and let the family members use that treatment. Just to make sure that it doesn’t continue to spread within the household. You know, one thing to know that some of these medications, some of the things we use, are toxic. I mean they’re toxic to the louse and they’re toxic to the eggs sometimes. So, they are to be used with caution. And that’s why we encourage people to go ahead and reach out to their physician to talk about what’s the best choice and where should we start and what should we do? The other thing is, if you don’t want to do the nits yourself, there are services that are available. Where a nurse or someone who has a lot of experience will come and do the very grueling, time consuming, fine comb layer removal of the nits and that takes quite a bit of time. And it usually takes more than one treatment so that’s the commitment to getting rid of them.  

MR: Bless those angels. That’s not my calling. Alright, well Dr. Rodgers thank you so much for coming in. It’s always good to have you on. Happy new year. Great things ahead for us in 2022. Yeah, we’re looking forward to it.