A group of New Jersey lice clinics reports a a 93% increase in lice treatments this spring.

Meredith Croy, owner of Lice Clinics of America-New Jersey, said lice have built up a resistance to over-the-counter remedies, making them stronger, and tougher to treat at home. She said kids are walking around with active infestations, widening the window for lice to spread.

The group said its statistic of a 93% increase was based on bookings and treatments in March 2019 compared to March 2019. The NJ-based group owns three locations in the Garden State, as well as one in Pennsylvania.

Croy also said while lice is typically found in younger children, there's been a much larger incidence of lice in teenagers in the last six months to a year.

"We're somewhat attributing that to selfies becoming so popular. I think teens were not putting their heads together quite as frequently as they are now to take selfies," Croy said.

Lice is highly contagious and spread through head-to-head contact. This is common during play at school, at home, at the playground, in sports activities, at camps and even in slumber parties. Croy also said there's a large increase when families get together — like in the summertime and around any holiday.

The biggest tell-tale sign of lice is the nit, which is a little smaller than a sesame seed and has a shine. The nit is very well-glued to the hair shaft, Croy said. Dandruff will move if a person nudges it gently with a finger, but a lice nit will stay put.

The key to identifying lice early is to check heads frequently, Croy said.

Since over-the-counter remedies are not as effective as they once were, some parents are manually combing out the lice nits, which Croy said is a futile method of treatment. If a parent misses one nit, the lice cycle starts up all over again. She said it's best to visit a professional lice treatment center instead.

To avoid lice, Croy said, girls should keep their hair in a tight buns or braids. Loose hair that hangs downs allows lice to easily transfer. Seek out a preventive spray for lice, such as one that contains rosemary and peppermint.

Lice cannot live off the head for more than 24 hours. Croy said it's important to put pillowcases and sheets in the hot dryer for at least an hour. Heat is their biggest enemy.

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