Health officials warn of Halloween lice - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Health officials warn of Halloween lice

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With Halloween just days away, local health officials are warning about critters that may be hiding in your costumes.

As you piece together or buy costumes for you and your family, you might want to consider the hidden dangers of lice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about six to 12 million children contract lice each year, and the Halloween season is not immune. 

Health officials say trying on a wig or mask at a local store is one of the most common ways to spread the parasite. 

"It's more uncommon to actually spread head lice through clothing, it's more common to spread it with direct head-to-head contact with an individual who has it," said Lauren Hawkins, Hamilton County Health Department.  

Lice feed off of the blood from your scalp and can even multiply while on you. Officials say the insects can be smaller than a grain of rice and hard to spot. The critters can cause itching, irritation to your scalp, and can be hard to remove without special shampoos and brushes. 

Lice can live on a surface without blood for 24-48 hours, so health officials say it is possible for lice to live on a wig or mask that you or your family might be trying on.

Health officials say taking the proper precaution when trying on a costume can help prevent the spread of lice.

"You could also try covering the hair with something else before trying on the wig or costume, and also removing those clothing when you get home afterwards to prevent that," said Hawkins.

Officials say washing your costumes in hot water and with high heat will help with prevention. If your costumes are not machine washable, officials suggest you put the clothing in a sealed bag for at least a couple of days.

Health officials say this is not something new or something you should panic about, but it is a possibility and a good conversation to have with family as you shop for costumes this holiday season. 

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