And if summer camp is on the schedule, your kids could bring a little surprise back home with them.

Pediculus humanus capitis - head lice - could hitch a ride home with your children. These tiny parasitical intruders are most commonly spread through hair-to- hair contact. Flopping down on a fellow camper's bunk, sharing hats, protective headgear, hairbrushes, or hair accessories -is a sure-fire way to infect another camper.

Roughly 6 to 12 million people in the United States, primarily children from ages 3-12 are diagnosed with head lice annually. Head lice don't cause disease, although if persistent, could lead to bacterial scalp infections. For the most part, the lice themselves are not dangerous, however they are uncomfortable and annoying.

Many conventional treatments sold at your local drug store contain insecticides that can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches. Some contain Malathion, an organophosphate insecticide that might be toxic to the endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. Lindane is another ingredient found in some products and is a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin. Products containing these chemicals should be avoided.

Most important...don't wait until your kid gets lice to deal with the consequences. Parents can take preventative steps to help protect their child from lice infestation by first talking to your kids about how these little bugs are spread.

Three Steps to Preventing Lice:

1. Use shampoos that contain essential oils like rosemary, tea tree, lemon, ylang ylang, and lavender regularly. They help to repel lice.

2. Do not share hats, pillows, clothing, hair brushes, etc. at summer camp or during school year.

3. If there is a lice outbreak at school - check for nits daily, using a nit comb. Metal nit combs can be purchased separately, but most of the time they are included with the shampoo - follow the directions for combing.

Despite these preventive measures, if your child still comes home with lice don't panic and don't resort to toxic chemicals.

Three Ways to Treating Lice:

1. For a ready to use non-toxic treatment, try LiceMD, available at most drug store chains. http://licemd.com/.

2. Mayonnaise is another safe, quick treatment used to kill lice and their eggs. Using room temperature mayonnaise - not out of the fridge - generously coat your child's hair and cover with a shower cap. Leave the treatment on for about two hours making sure to coat the area behind the ears and down the back of your child's neck. Then throw away the shower cap and thoroughly shampoo the hair. You may need to shampoo several times to remove all the mayonnaise. Then rinse your child's hair with white distilled vinegar followed by very warm water. Once hair is dry, comb thoroughly with a nit comb to remove any remaining eggs and examine the entire head. You may need to repeat this process.

3. Professional in-home nit/lice removal services may be available in your area.

These services typically use a nit comb and/or non-toxic shampoo/remedy. http://thenit-picker.com/; http://liceaid.com/category/lice-treatment-for-families/

If you are dealing with children under the age of five, it's recommended that you consult your family doctor before using any product.

It's important to remember that although lice are unpleasant and the process to kill them is time consuming, they are not dangerous. Poisonous chemical treatments are.

More resources-

LiceLess http://store.medicineflower.com/liceless.html.

The National Pediculosis Association http://www.headlice.org/index.html

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com