Summer camp is indeed a popular way for kids to spend their summer vacation. In fact, the American Camp Association reports there are about 7,000 overnight camps and about 5,000 day camps in the U.S., for a total of more than 12,000 camps. These camps are attended each year by more than 11 million children.
Did you also know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states up to 12 million children will contract head lice this year in the United States? While these numbers may seem alarming, what can be even more concerning is that a lot of these summer camps report head lice as a major problem for them. Some have policies in place that require children to be sent home is they prove to have head lice. Others simply provide a treatment at camp. Still, others have no policy in place and are left scratching their heads how to stop an outbreak.
What is Your Summer Camp Head Lice Policy?
As a proactive parent, one major way to protect your children from head lice this summer camp is to contact the camp leadership about what policies they have in place. Lice Clinics of America even offer head lice screenings at many summer camps and can provide on the spot treatment. The FDA-cleared AirAllé device our clinics recommend uses a dehydration method to dry out head lice and their eggs on contact. This innovative, extremely effective method is virtually painless and inexpensive compared to over the counter methods that take multiple weeks and applications.
If your summer camp does not have a plan of action, suggest they develop one. A proactive approach can go along way in prevention.
How to Keep Kids Lice Free at Summer Camp
Before your child leaves for camp give them the facts. Make sure they understand that head lice are most often contracted from direct head to head contact. What does that mean? Sitting closely together, pressing heads together, hugging, snuggling, and even standing very near one another. All things kids are often seen doing, as they are much less concerned with personal space than adults.
Talk to children about not sharing personal items. Obvious things such as hair brushes and hats can sometimes not be hard to remember. It is things they might not realize could be harboring head lice or nits that are often to blame for spreading. Items like towels, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, jackets, helmets, earbuds or even headphones.
Remind children that sometimes even with prevention in mind, head lice is just gonna happen. People who catch head lice are not bad or dirty. Anyone can catch it and spread it. Tell them it is not dangerous and you can help them find a safe, quick way to get rid of the head lice.
What About When They Return Home?
Take the time to perform a head lice check before and after summer camp. Using a nitpicking comb look through their scalp for any signs or symptoms of head lice. Remember, most symptoms can take weeks to show up. The best indicator will be nits or lice eggs laid at the base of the scalp on individual hair strands.
Make sure to wash and heat dry all items from camp. Even personal items that cannot be washed in a washing machine need to be placed in a dryer on high setting for 30 minutes after summer camp. This will effectively kill any lurking nits or lice on the items.