LOCAL LICE EXPERT TRACEY FUDGE SHARES HER BEST PEST PRACTICES.
Mention lice, and my head immediately begins to itch. These tiny insects can cause major anxiety with parents, especially of school-aged kids. With one in four children catching lice in their childhood, it’s important to be prepared. Tracey Fudge, who was frustrated with the lack of successful treatments, stigma and misinformation associated with head lice, became owner of Atlanta Lice Happens in 2015. Here, she shares how she helps clients in and around Buckhead avoid and survive an onslaught of these pesky little critters.
Does my kid have lice?
Head lice symptoms vary, and while an itchy or tingling head is often thought of as a principal sign of head lice, only some people itch. “It’s the allergic reaction from the lice’s saliva and our blood that creates the itch, and the itch is all over, not just the head,” Fudge says. “Some people never get the allergic reaction and associated burning itch because they don’t have an allergy to that saliva.”
The best way to find out if a child is suffering from head lice is to check the scalp with the naked eye. Part your child’s hair and look for crawling lice that are brown; the eggs are oval-shaped and “super-glued” to the hair shaft. “About 95% of people don’t know what you are looking for,” Fudge says. “The baby louse are translucent, so you can’t even see them on the scalp.”
AAH! My kid has lice!
First and foremost, Fudge advises parents to stay calm. “Don’t freak out,” she says. “Kids pick up on your emotions.” Then call a professional. Fudge’s company, Atlanta Lice Happens, visits clients at home, keeping the process convenient and confidential. Fudge uses a seven-step process that includes the application of a non-toxic, natural enzyme to loosen the “nit glue” and a thorough, manual comb-out. After a child has been treated, he or she can resume all normal activities with precautions, such as putting hair up and undergoing quick comb checks daily for 10 to 14 days. “You cannot get around combing, and it’s never a one and done [situation]. You have to follow up,” Fudge says.
What about over-the-counter treatments and chemicals? Fudge says overuse of these products has caused lice to mutate and become “super louse” that are immune to many of these remedies. “[The OTC products] have an efficacy of less than 20%,” Fudge says.
How do I prevent lice?
Head lice are transferred from head-to-head and hair-to-hair contact, so children should avoid sharing hair accessories as well as towels, hats and scarves. Fudge says wearing hair in a ponytail or bun can also help, but it isn’t 100% effective in preventing transmission. “[Lice-preventing] hairsprays along with tea tree oil can also help prevent, but remember, once they are on a head, they have no means to retreat. They don’t hop, jump or fly, so once they are on a head, they are there to stay.”
Fudge spends a lot of time educating families on how to prevent infestations and suggests a weekly check with a nit comb. Checks are particularly important after camps, sleepovers and visits to public pools.
“Not all nit combs are created equal,” Fudge warns. “The comb that we package and resell is the Nit-free Terminator. That is the best.”
~ Lice infestations are the second most common ailment after the common cold.
~ One in 10 people (adults included) has lice.
~ There is no such thing as a lice infested house, classroom, car, etc.
ATLANTA LICE HAPPENS
Contributing home editor and design columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel & Business Writer. Mother of Two.