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Head lice chances increase during Halloween season

Wall filled with different wigs at Costume Castle (ABC 7 Amarillo - Abby Aldrich)

While kids are thinking about what they would like to be for Halloween this year, for some parents, Halloween costumes can mean coming home with head lice.

Dr. Meganne Walsh, a pediatrician in Amarillo, said head lice are tiny bugs that lay and attach their eggs to hair close to the scalp. She said with Halloween right around the corner, lice is common as several people could be trying on masks and wigs before they land on your head.

“This is the time of the year for hats, masks and wigs," Walsh said. "So all those are excellent ways to spread lice."

"It is not life-threatening," Walsh said. "It does not mean that they are not practicing good hygiene. It's not meaning that they are living in a dirty place. It's not meaning that they cannot go back to school."

Walsh tells ABC 7 News if possible, buying a wig or mask pre-packaged is a preferred option. However, there are ways to prevent lice when trying on costumes.

“If you had to try it on, some people say [use] a swim cap and then try it to see if they want the look," Walsh said. "Or they can use their own baseball cap backwards to get an idea and see how [and] if that's what they want to see how it looks.”

However, local costume shops take measures to make sure lice is never found in their merchandise. Dennis Rhyne, owner of Costume Castle, said the shop uses Lysol to clean wigs and hats after a customer brings a wig back to their store.

“What we do is when they get back, the wigs are washed and then sprayed, so we make sure nobody transfers anything," Rhyne said. "And the hats, they are sprayed and wiped out and made sure everything is clean on them and make sure nothing is in them.”

Rhyne said Costume Castle usually rents wigs three or four times before deciding to eventually throw them away. He tells ABC 7 News the company has never had any problems whatsoever with their merchandise and lice.

Health officials said if your child gets lice, home remedies have been proven ineffective and the best route to take would be over-the-counter treatments. Walsh said once purchasing the product, it is important to follow the instructions word for word, exactly like the manufacture says to do.

If the over-the-counter treatment does not work, Walsh said to then make an appointment to see your physician.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be taught not to share personal items like combs, brushes and hats. The AAP said regular observations by parents can be an effective way to detect and quickly treat head lice infestations.

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