Why Halloween is ripe for head lice

Prime time for head lice.
Prime time for head lice. Photo: Shutterstock

Here's some news likely to have you scratching your heads - literally. Apparently, Halloween is prime time for head lice - and there's a completely logical reason why.

Speaking to WTOL, pediatric nurse practitioner Cherie Sexton shared that doctors often see a spike in cases of nits at Halloween, all thanks to costume hunting.

"We have a lot of people going into stores right now, trying on masks, trying on costumes and trying on wigs" Sexton said, adding that people often don't think twice about how many people have donned the costumes before them. 

But, if you've ever found yourself armed with an unimpressed child and a scary looking nit comb, your nostrils assaulted by the pungent aroma of lice-treatment shampoo, you'll agree it's something worth being mindful of.

"[Head lice infestations] can go up for seven days so if your child has been to a Halloween costume party, or they've been to a sleep over and somebody called and said there was somebody with lice there, make sure you check your child for the next seven days," Sexton said.

To avoid an unwelcome plague of nits, she also advises the following:

  • Stick your costume or wig in a sealed plastic bag for 48 hours before putting it on. Apparently, any lurking lice will die within one - two days.
  • If any of the items are dryer-friendly, put them in the dryer on "high heat" for 45 minutes before suiting up.
  • Pop a swimming cap, or wig cap on your child's head before donning head gear.

Worried your kids might have nits? Follow these tips (and welcome to the club!)

Step 1
- Comb any type of hair conditioner on to dry, brushed hair. This stuns the lice and makes it difficult for them to grip the hair or crawl around.
Step 2
- Comb sections of the hair with a fine tooth, head lice comb.
Step 3 -
Wipe the conditioner from the comb onto a paper towel or tissue.
Step 4
- Look on the tissue and on the comb for lice and eggs.
Step 5
- Repeat the combing for every part of the head at least four or five times

The good news is those little critters are easy to treat - with a bottle of conditioner and a nit comb.

Happy Halloween!