No one likes to think about the possibility that their kids might get head lice. Unfortunately, it happens to plenty of families every year anyway. Lice are one of the most common parasitic pests out there, and they can affect anyone, regardless of their social status, grooming habits, or hair type. If your kids regularly spend time around other people, they’re at risk for getting lice.
Lice travel easily from person to person in environments like schools, so school-aged children are most likely to get them. But kids are still at risk for getting head lice when school’s out for the summer, too. Even the beach can be a danger zone for picking up some unwelcome visitors. Here’s what you need to know about lice when you take your kids to the beach this summer.
A DIP IN THE WATER WON’T GET RID OF LICE.
You might think that a long play session at a lake (or, better yet, a salty ocean) would be enough to drown lice and clean your child’s scalp. This isn’t actually true, though. Lice can hold their breath for as long as four hours, so it’s very difficult to drown them. They also hold tightly to strands of hair with their legs, so they can’t be washed away easily.
If your child is currently undergoing treatment for lice, it’s okay for them to play in the water at the beach. They’re very unlikely to spread lice to anyone else this way. Be aware, though, that the water probably won’t do anything to help get rid of the pests.
IT’S EASY TO PASS LICE AROUND AT THE BEACH.
Your child may not be in close contact with other kids in school hallways and classrooms this summer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get lice. In fact, the beach may be one of the biggest summer transmission zones when it comes to lice.
Why? Well, at the beach, many people tend to do a lot of sharing. You probably already know that it’s a bad idea to share hats and hairbrushes, but there are plenty of other ways lice and their eggs (called nits) can get passed from person to person. To complicate the issue, some kids catch lice and don’t get any symptoms, so neither they nor their parents realize what’s going on.
The upshot? If your child’s friend has lice but doesn’t realize it, and if your child borrows their towel or their sunglasses, your child has a high chance of ending up with lice too. Don’t take that chance. Use these lice prevention strategies at the beach:
- Make sure each of your kids has their own towel. Don’t let your kids share someone else’s.
- Tell your kids not to share clothes, hats, or sunglasses with others.
- Discourage your child from sharing headphones or earbuds with anybody.
FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE DON’T BOTHER LICE.
It would be nice if a good airing-out and some sunshine were enough to make lice shrivel up and disappear. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight does kill some kinds of bacteria, but lice are completely unaffected by it. It’s true that sunshine is great for your kids, but if you think they may have lice, you should take them to a lice removal specialist before you have your day at the beach.
Going to the beach is exciting for kids, whether your family lives on the coast or you’re planning a fun oceanside vacation this year. However, it’s important to make sure your kids don’t pick up any pests while they’re building sand castles and splashing in the surf. Getting lice at the beach isn’t as uncommon as you might think, and a lice problem isn’t something you can ignore.
Fortunately, it’s not too hard to protect your kids’ scalps as you have your fun in the sun. Make sure to teach your kids about good lice prevention strategies, such as not sharing anything that touches the head and using their own towel. If you think your child might have lice, don’t let the problem get worse – get in touch with a lice removal specialist so your child will be lice-free and ready to go back to school in the fall.