Doctors warn head lice may be lurking in Halloween store costumes

Health experts warn that there may be creepy crawlers lurking inside your costume mask this Halloween.

According to WTOL, doctors are seeing an increase in head lice case this time of year -- and it's not just because school is back in session.

The biggest cause is apparently Halloween costume shopping.

RELATED: Super lice in 48 states

11 PHOTOS
Super lice in 48 states
See Gallery
Super lice in 48 states
Colored scanning electron micrograph of pubic louse
Headlice on human hair, magnified
(Pediculus humanus capitis) is wingless insect that's an external parasite of man.Attach to hair by using well-developed claws.Mouthparts adapted for sucking blood.Can transmit disease:Pediculosis-causes intense itching.Scanning Electron Micrograph.
human head louse: pediculus humanus capitis copulation
headlouse: pedunculus capitis adult (head-on)
Head lice (louse) isolated
Head louse. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) clinging to a human hair. Head lice measure 2-3 millimetres in length. They live in the hair on the head and suck blood from the scalp, causing intense itching. The itching provokes scratching, which can lead to scalp inflammation or dermatitis. Treatment is with medicated shampoo.
Scanning electron micrograph of a human crab louse or pubic louse (Phthirus pubis), magnified 210x at 8' x 10'.
Human head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis), light micrograph. Magnification: x20 when printed at 10 centimetres wide.
Colour enhanced scanning electron micrograph.Human head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are parasites:feed on human blood.Attach to hair;cause red sores and intense itching of scalp (pediculosis).Destroyed by gamma benzene hexachloride.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“We have a lot of people going into stores right now, trying on masks, trying on costumes, and trying on wigs,” Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Cherie Sexton told WTOL. “A lot of people don’t give much thought into the fact that several people could’ve tried it on before them.”

And for those unlucky enough to come into contact with something carrying lice, Sexton added that their risk of infestation can last for up to seven days.

To avoid the Halloween horror, Sexton recommended people be selective when wearing costumes or wigs, and to put purchased items into a sealed plastic bag for 48 hours to kill lice -- which are known to die within 24-48 hours.

SEE ALSO: Super lice have taken over 25 states and aren't slowing down

She also suggested placing dryer-friendly costume material into a dryer for 45 minutes on high heat to get rid of the scary critters.

Wearing a swim cap to cover your hair when putting on a new costume or wig is also another method Sexton advised to act as a barrier between you and potential lice.

“It’s really not a health hazard. It’s not a sign of poor hygiene. And it’s not really spreading disease. It’s really just more of a nuisance,” Sexton added.

RELATED: Dentists reveal the worst Halloween candy for your teeth

6 PHOTOS
Dentists reveal the worst Halloween candy for your teeth
See Gallery
Dentists reveal the worst Halloween candy for your teeth

CHEWY CANDIES

The reason candy, in general, is harmful to teeth is that bacteria in the mouth burn the sugar, creating acid as a byproduct, explains Matthew Messina, DDS, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). The acid then dissolves tooth enamel, which is what causes cavities. Chewy candies, including gummy candies and taffy, are among the worst offenders because they linger and stick around in your mouth, giving them additional time to cause tooth decay. Not to mention some are sticky and strong enough to pull out a filling, bridge, or braces. Opt for one of these healthy Halloween candies instead.

(Getty)

CARAMELS

Caramels are another sticky offender because they stick to teeth—not to mention expensive dental appliances like orthodontics. Like other sweets, caramels are best enjoyed after a meal and brushing and flossing immediately after eating limits the amount of time the stickiness sticks around in your mouth. Check out the best and worst candy as ranked by a nutritionist.  

(Getty)

SOUR AND CITRUS-FLAVORED CANDIES

Sour candies have grown in popularity over the years; and they are bad for teeth on two fronts. They contain both sugar and acid, according to Dr. Messina. Like other candies, limit how many sour candies and lemony sweets you or your child enjoys in order to prevent long-term damage any day of the year. When you brush, make sure to avoid these common teeth-brushing mistakes.

(Getty)

HARD CANDIES

Hard candies may be a Halloween favorite, but suckers and lollipops actually do more harm than you might realize. Because they are meant to be enjoyed slowly, hard candies and their cousins on a stick linger longer, making it difficult for your saliva to do its job and causing acid to build up in the mouth. Making sure that you properly care for your teeth as soon as the candy is gone can help prevent cavities. Ready for a fright? See exactly how many calories are in your favorite Halloween candy.

(Getty)

Shattered homemade chocolate with cocoa powder
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story