Yuck, here we go again on head lice...
As you can tell by the title "head lice" is certainly not one of my topics of choice. None-the-less, it seems to be a reoccurring theme here on the discussion list for face painters. It will rise to the surface about every six to eight months and then want to dominate for seven to ten days, kind of like an infestation of lice. Therefore... I'm going to try to tackle these little varmints so in the future we can point people to the FAQ (frequently asked question list) rather than having to deal with it. Did I mention it isn't one of my favorite topics? I'll give an overview as it applies to face painting and I'll simply turn it over to the experts with some supplied links on the internet. Surely by the time you get through reading all of those links you with know far more about the problem than you ever thought possible. You too can learn to hate to talk about lice.
The problem of nits, lice, ticks and the like is a problem that can be found all over the world. There is no question, by the rampant conversations on the discussion list that the problem seems to be worse in some parts of the world than others. With this said, probably every family that has children, will have a run in with these pesky creatures at their local school on occasion and if prevention or care is not taken, your family will be thrust into an onslaught and a major war right there in your own home. There are many health issues that are associated and it can range from a nuisance to severe health concerns.
A face painter, and generally it is a mother that happens to be a face painter, who also happens to be observant, notices the pesky little creatures. Being the typical guy I can honestly say I've never seen them myself when face painting. Ok, so maybe I need to get my bifocals upgraded. As I said... it must be a mother thing. Did I mention I hate this topic? Face painters do all kinds of tricks to avoid coming in contact with the hair, but it is a natural thing to do when you place your hand on the head to hold back the bangs to do some face painting. Does this offer an opportunity for a lice (or the complete squad) to take a ride on your hand in order to crawl on to the next child in line? Is the face painter part of the problem? Well I'll leave it up to the experts in the links below. All I know is many face painters try to get a little creative in using hair bands, hair ties and various other "tools" so to not touch the hair but in the end the lice are a mobile group. How mobile is the real question. On top of that when you use hair clips, head bands and other tools are you adding to the problem or making it better? The facts will say that you are probably adding to the problem.
Direct from http://www.headlice.org it says, "Head lice can be spread whenever there is direct contact of the head or hair with an infested individual. Lice can also be spread through the sharing of personal articles like hats, towels, brushes, helmets, hair ties and so on. There is also a possibility that head lice can be spread via a pillow, head rest, or similar item. Head lice do not jump or fly and generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host."
Then comes the question... "I was face painting today and saw a kid with a bizillion lice crawling around. Is it correct to tell the mom that she needs to take care of her child? What do I say? Should I refuse to paint the child? What do I do with my face painting sponge and brush after I paint this child." and on and on and on. Well, there are probably as many different answers as there are face painting styles. You do what you are comfortable doing. My suggestion, if you know for a fact there are lice, is to quietly mention to the mom there is a problem and then paint something on the arm and avoid the hair line all together. You do what you feel comfortable doing.
So now is the time I bow out and refer you to the experts. They, I'm sure, like the topic much more than I do. Like with any topic, there are many great resources on the internet, at your local library or even at your local elementary school or health clinic. Do a little digging around and you too can be a head lice expert.
Louseology 101 - a beginners guide to lice,
complete with photos
FAQ on lice - http://www.headlice.org/faq/questions.htm
The top 10 ways to get rid of them - http://www.headlice.org/downloads/tipsremoval.htm
10 steps to staying ahead of lice - http://www.headlice.org/downloads/10steps.htm
Public relations versus public health - http://www.headlice.org/news/headlines/parentsknow.htm
Head lice information sheet - http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/phtm/PHTM/hlice/hlinfo1.htm
Head lice from a scientific viewpoint - http://www.schoolnurse.com/med_info/lice_scientific.html
Control of lice on children - http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/DK1030.html
A fact sheet on head lice - http://www.state.vt.us/health/_hs/epidemiology/headlice/headlice.htm
Ok, so now you have it. Can I go now? All of this talk about head lice is making my scalp itch.
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