Helping kids avoid head lice at summer camp

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 07:43

Helping kids avoid head lice at summer camp Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist- Agricultural Communications Services - Oklahoma State University


STILLWATER, Okla. (June 6, 2018) – With many Oklahoma youth planning to spend parts of their summer breaks enjoying camps, clinics and conferences, families need to know how to protect against head lice.


While the insects are a common problem across the United States, Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist, said youth attending summer camps and other similar activities are at higher risk because there are so many participants from different home environments coming together in one place.


“Anyone can get head lice. It’s not about cleanliness or where you live. It’s a matter of who you come into close contact with,” Talley said.


Head lice are a blood sucking insect that can only be transmitted from person to person through direct contact such as sharing a pillow, a brush or by having head to head contact with someone who has lice.


As a preventative measure, parents should talk to their children about not sharing personal items such as combs or brushes and bed linens, especially pillows.


“The more children share those types of items, the more likely there will be a transmission of lice,” Talley said.


Infestations can take between five and 10 days to develop after exposure, depending on the temperature and condition of the infested person’s hair.


While the camp or conference medical staff should be trained to identify lice, parents should check their children for lice as soon as they return home, especially if they are exhibiting abnormal behavior such as flicking their hair or scratching more than usual.


To properly check for head lice, part the hair all the way to the scalp every 2 to 3 inches all over the head, and especially in the back toward the neck.


“The best method to detect lice is to purchase a lice comb and comb through your child’s hair thoroughly because this will pick up both adult lice as well as eggs,” Talley said.


Head lice range in color from creamy white to brown and are visible with the naked eye.


“They’ll be active, crawling on and near the scalp,” Talley said.


All clothing and bedding, and especially the pillowcases, also should be washed immediately after campers get back home.


These items should be laundered separately from the rest of the laundry in hot water above 125F and dried on a high heat setting.


“If lice are suspected or reported from the camp then dispose of any combs or brushes so that the infestation is not accidently spread to other members in the household,” Talley said.

In cases of a suspected infestation, try over-the-counter lice control shampoos. However, if the infestation is severe or if the over-the-counter product does not work, stronger alternatives may be obtained by prescription from a medical professional.


Lice control products typically require two applications – one initially and a second one about 10 to 14 days later.


“Regardless of the product you’re using, the second application is important because the first application doesn’t kill the eggs,” Talley said. “Reapplying the product after about 10 days allows those eggs to hatch so you’re killing the remaining nymphs.”


There also are companies, including some located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, that use heat and vacuuming to remove lice.


For more information about head lice, contact the nearest county Extension office and download a free OSU Fact Sheet on the topic, EPP-7008, “Human Lice and Scabies,” at

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies. Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.


Last modified on Tuesday, 24 May 2022 22:39
David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

Google +


Founded in 2012, our goal is to bring you the latest news with a focus on Poteau, LeFlore County and Southeast Oklahoma. So Much More than News - News as it Happens 24/7! FREE