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Tips

 

Bath Time

Who knew? Lice can swim—or at least they can survive under water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies “show that head lice can survive under water for several hours but are unlikely to be spread by the water in a swimming pool.”

Head lice hold tightly onto the child’s (or adult’s) hair and essentially hold their breath when under water. Contrary to some peoples’ opinions, chlorine does not kill head lice.

It is also important to know that head lice can be spread when children share towels, washcloths and any other items that have been in contract with the hair of someone who had head lice. In additional to towels this applies to other bathing accessories like hairbrushes, combs, curlers, etc.

Also, the CDC reports, “Swimming or washing the hair within 1–2 days after treatment with some head lice medicines might make some treatments less effective.”

Laundry

When you’ve had head lice in your home, it is important to properly clean the clothing, bedding and other materials the person with lice has been in contact with.

Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended laundry procedure: “Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned,” OR “store in a plastic bag for two weeks.”

Doing a few loads of laundry is a lot easier and faster than filling plastic bags. According to the National Pediculosis Association, “You can also put bed linens, stuffed animals and other items in a dryer for 30 minutes.”

It is also important to wash towels, washcloths and hair accessories that have been in contact with the hair of someone who has head lice.

Cleaning

A common misconception about treating people and homes that have had contact with lice is that the only way to get them out of the house is to put everything in the home that is made of any type of fabric in plastic bags for two weeks and have the furniture and carpets cleaned. Not necessary!
Here is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about home cleaning when lice are found:  “Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money on housecleaning activities.”

Here is the CDC’s recommended procedure: “Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned,” OR “store in a plastic bag for two weeks.”

Also, “Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.”

The CDC recommends vacuuming the floor where the person with lice has been, “However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very low. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp.”
Now you know. “Spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.” Phew!