As summer ends and school begins again, it is important for parents to be on their guard against head lice. Children between the ages of 3 and 12 are the most likely to get head lice, and there are best practices parents can use to prevent lice from afflicting their children.
- Check your kids’ heads regularly. It is important to check children’s heads for lice on a regular basis. Finding lice early makes treatment easier and keeps lice from spreading to other children. Lice can be hard to see, especially on children with long hair. They typically live about a quarter of an inch from the scalp where they feel the warmth of the body. Use a magnifying glass and a fine-toothed comb to dislodge them. If you find live lice, you’ll need to get the nits (eggs), too, which are much more difficult because they are smaller and glued tightly to the hair. If you’re unsure whether your child has lice, take them to a professional treatment center like Lice Clinics of America.
- Use a prevention product. Lice prevention products like Lice Clinics of America’s new Lice Preventer Kit, and preventative sprays and conditioners repel lice with scents that are undetectable by humans but offensive to head lice. These products can be used regularly or used whenever your child might be in a situation where lice could be present (sleepovers, camps, etc.).
- Take care of the hair. Lice spread by head-to-head contact or, more specifically, through hair-to-hair contact. Keeping boys hair cut short, and girls’ hair tied back can go a long way to prevent them from getting lice because their hair is less likely to contact another child’s hair.
- Share less. Sorry, this is not the message you typically want to send to children. While it’s much less common, lice can spread through shared clothing and hair accessories like brushes and clips. This is one area where sharing is not caring! Discourage your children from sharing hats, scarves, and other clothing that is likely to contact hair.
- One of the biggest reasons lice are able to spread is because parents are afraid to talk about them. The myth that lice have something to do with poor hygiene has been debunked for generations, but the social stigma persists. Parents don’t want other parents to know that their child has lice, so they don’t talk about it. This enables the lice to spread from child to child. If you are notified by your child’s school that he or she has lice, let the parents of your child’s friends know.
- Don’t panic. If your child does get lice, take it in stride. It happens to 6-12 million people each year. You didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did anyone else in your school, day care, or wherever else your child may have contracted head lice. There are treatments available that make getting rid of head lice about as difficult as getting a haircut. Lice Clinics of America, for example, uses an FDA-cleared medical device that is clinically proven and guaranteed to kill live lice and eggs in about an hour.