Written by David Gurliacci.
Fiendish little creatures could be crawling on the heads of your children this Halloween season to suck their blood and eat their skin -- for real.
Fahrenholzia pinnata and other members of the lice family could be crawling around in that wig your child's friend let your child wear, or perhaps it was in some other part of a Halloween costume your child shared.
How big is the threat? There are two ways of answering that question:
First, it isn't a "threat" in the sense that lice will harm your child. Lice are a nuisance, not (normally) a health threat, according to experts. (Then again, who wants to feel tickling or itchiness coming from an insect in one's hair?)
Second, if the question were interpreted as "Just how common is this on Halloween?" Well, we don't know.
From the Mayo Clinic website:
Usually you can get rid of lice by taking self-care steps that include using nonprescription shampoo that's specifically formulated to kill lice.
But don't use that shampoo if you're pregnant -- in that case, see a doctor. If the shampoo doesn't work, see a doctor. If you've got "hives or skin abrasions from scratching" (and that's skin hives, not insect hives), then you should see a doctor, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
You can get a free screening for head lice at Licenders, which has a lice-removal salon at 30 Myano St., in Stamford (just off Route 1 about a block east of the Stamford-Greenwich border).
Here's part of a news release the company sent out:
"Licenders offers free screenings at any of its four New York City, Long Island and Connecticut locations. Licenders, a firm with over 16 years of experience, recommends bringing in children for a free check before they go trick-or-treating. Free screenings enable parents to catch any potential lice problems early, making treatment simple and manageable.
“'Halloween is a hot-bed for lice,' says Licenders owner, Adie Horowitz. 'Kids try on wigs, hats, and share brushes, effortlessly transmitting lice from head to head.'
"Licenders makes it easy to prevent a lice outbreak; no appointments are necessary for free screenings and walk-ins are welcome. The salons are open seven days a week and experienced clinicians are standing by to answer any additional inquiries. Licenders is available immediately at (212) 759-5200 for more information.
"With a full line of non-toxic and all natural lice products, there is no need to put harmful pesticides on childrens' heads."