Lice, just the word alone, can give parents the ick. The beginning of the school year is often a big time for lice; there are so many new heads to infest! With classrooms getting more and more kids each year, it’s unsurprising that it’s so easily spread. When your child comes home with lice or even the dreaded note indicating there are lice in the classroom, immediately our heads get itchy, and we feel squeamish. Here are some tips to prevent and treat lice.
We know action needs to be taken immediately, whether you need to treat lice, or are aware it’s spreading throughout the class and you need to prevent it – the time for action is immediate.
The good news about lice:
While the thought of lice is unsettling, it’s good to remember that lice aren’t a major health risk, nor do they carry any disease like other bugs and creepy crawlies. They prefer clean hair, so having lice doesn’t mean you’re dirty or unhygienic.
Types and stages of head lice:
The entire life cycle of lice lasts about 30 days. However, they lay eggs during that time, so unless they’re treated, this cycle will happen over and over.
1) Egg: This looks like a little white dot in the hair. It sticks to the strand of hair and needs to be pulled out (a good way to decipher between a small fluff or piece of dandruff that you can shake away or blow off)
2) Nymph: They’re greyish-white in color, and at this stage, they begin moving.
3) Adult Lice: At this stage, they’re tan in color and can easily be seen moving quickly throughout the hair and across the scalp.
Tips to treat head lice:
There are a number of ways you can treat head lice. It is treatable at home, but you’ll need a few things:
Headlice Comb – This is used for combing through the hair and pulling out the eggs.
Headlice kit – read what is included as the kit will likely already include the comb.
Conditioner – You may want to put some condition in the hair to make combing through it easier. The smoother the hair is, the easier it is to see the eggs and slide them out with the comb.
Step 1: OTC Shampoo Treatment:
This will kill the adult lice. Follow the directions on the kit, it will usually involve a few steps (you may want to grab the iPad or put on a movie, this may take a while!)
Wash and towel-dry the hair, then apply the treatment, don’t forget to scrub the nape of your child’s neck, behind their ears! You may need to let it sit for a few minutes (make sure you’re following instructions).
Step 2: Remove the lice with the comb.
Remove the lice by parting the hair into small sections and combing through to pull out any eggs or nits. Start as close to the scalp as possible. Any live that you pull out should be put into a wet paper towel and then sealed into a plastic bag.
Repeat steps 1 & 2. The shampoo treatment won’t kill eggs; it will only kill adult lice, so you should repeat this step a few days to a week later to ensure that if you miss an egg in step one, you’ll have a chance to kill the adult.
Remember to follow all the preventative tips below. The last thing you want is to have your child reinfested a week or so later!
If you tried the above OTC treatments and had no luck, and you’re sure your child didn’t get reinfested, you may want to make an appointment at a salon that treats lice. You’ll have to Google one in your area or ask around in your local moms’ groups.
Wash, wash, wash:
Make sure to wash bedding, pillows, blankets, stuffies, clothing etc. While lice can only crawl, not jump. A stray hair with a louse on it could be enough to crawl onto your head and reinfest or infest someone else in the home.
How to prevent head lice:
Oftentimes, our kids will come home with a note that says there is a case or cases of lice in the classroom. Don’t panic! It can be prevented! Here are some tips to prevent head lice:
Get a tea tree oil spray, lice don’t like the smell of it. Give you kids hair a spritz before heading off to school.
Make sure all hair is tied back! French braids are best to keep stray hair from touching others.
Feel free to skip a few washes, the lice can’t grip easily onto unwashed, oily hair. So it may be a good time to ease up on the shampoo until the situation in the classroom changes.
Label your kids’ stuff – especially hats!! Making sure that hats stay on the correct head is crucial to keeping lice at bay! Although lice can’t jump and need hair to live, one stray hair inside a hat can be all it takes to have a lice crawl into your kid’s hair!
Talk to your kids about not sharing clips, combs, clothing or hats. Make sure they give one another space. Especially when huddling over a book or laptop, try and remind them to give their heads some space.