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Boo! There Might Be Lice in Your Kid's Halloween Costume

Photograph by Twenty20

A circulating Halloween PSA is turning out to be the stuff of nightmares for parents. But unlike terrifying clowns or candies containing doses of mind-altering THC that haunted people in previous years, lice is this year's biggest worry. While having lice isn't a major health problem, those itchy buggers are downright annoying, as people who have spent an entire day cleaning their homes and delousing their children can attest to.

Doctors are seeing a jump in cases of head lice this time of year, according to news outlet WTOL, not because of the start of school, but because of Halloween costume shopping. That Frankenstein mask or witch hat might be really tempting to try on, but you might want to ditch the family selfie opportunity because something else could be lurking in there.

"We have a lot of people going into stores right now, trying on masks, trying on costumes and trying on wigs. And a lot of people don't give much thought to the fact that several people could've tried it on before them," Cherie Sexton, a pediatric nurse practitioner, told WTOL.

To prevent this, try not to put on any masks or hats until after you've gone home and treated the costume properly. Washing, soaking or drying costumes at a high heat (greater than 130 degrees F), or sealing the costume in a plastic bag for 48 hours before wearing it should do the trick, as head lice should die within 24-48 hours outside of a human host.

But sometimes it can be hard to wait to try a costume on until you get home. How else would you know if it fits, right? If you or your kid must try on a costume at the store, experts suggest wearing a swim or wig cap that protects the hair from touching the surface of the costume.

If you do end up having a lice infestation on your hands, expect to go through the five emotional stages of lice anxiety that many parents are now familiar with. Follow our step-by-step guide to getting rid of them. And remember: You're way bigger than those creepy crawlers! Keep calm and scary on.

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