HOUSTON - It is estimated there are as many as 12 million cases of head lice each year in the United States, and the cases tend to spike as children head back to school.
"Yes, It is a very busy season for us. We get kids from all over: Katy, Sugar Land, West University, Bellaire, Memorial, Clear Lake, League City, Woodlands and Kingwood, so it is just everywhere," said Peggy Warner, owner of the Texas Lice Squad.
Warner said lice is often spread during summer vacation.
"During break time, kids are more social. There are more sleepovers, there are more play dates, kids going off to camp and then they all come back to school and share their little friends with their friends," said Warner, a registered nurse.
The Texas Lice Squad office in southwest Houston was recently filled with children and parents getting lice checks, lice removal and re-checks of children. Samuel Behar brought in his 7-year-old daughter to be checked.
"It is a tough bug to get rid of, and it is a lot of work to keep it out of the rest of the family," said Behar, a father of four.
To remove ice, a patients' hair is combed first, and then the clinician goes back strand by strand and manually removes whatever the comb did not get out. Warner said that is the only way to get rid of the bugs.
Warner said she believes lice are becoming more resistant to other treatments.
Children ages 3 to 11 get the most cases of lice. It is most commonly spread from direct head-to-head contact.
"Especially in little girls," Warner said. "They hug everybody. Everybody is their best friend. They are always hugging, leaning over and telling secrets, so their hair is touching, especially in the cafeteria where they are packed in like sardines.
Most children will have lice about four to six weeks before anyone knows it, so parents are encouraged to check their kids' hair once a week.
"It's everywhere," Warner said. "Whenever you have it in your school you think your school is having the epidemic, but we don't see any more children from one school than another."
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