If you have kids in school, you know how it feels when you get “the note.” Which note is that? The one that informs you that there has been a case of head lice reported in your child’s classroom. Or, worse yet, you get the phone call to come up and pick up your child as he or she has a case of lice. UGH.
Dealing with lice is difficult. There are so many treatment methods out there from olive oil to mayonnaise. And, it isn’t just heads you have to treat, you have to wash bedding, place stuffed animals into plastic bags, vacuum the furniture – the list goes on and on. Isn’t there anything you can do to prevent your child from bringing home these little pests? Yep! There is!
HOW TO PREVENT HEAD LICE
Don’t share items that touch the head
It can be tempting to be nice and share your comb, earbuds or a stocking cap with a friend. But, these are simple ways to pick up a case of head lice. Do not share, or use, any item that touches someone else’s head.
Don’t try on hats or masks in the store
During the holiday season, stores stock funny hats and masks that you think are fun to try on. But, doing so can open you up to a going home with more than you bargained for – like lice. Just admire these items without putting them on your head. If you need to buy them, take them home and launder them before putting them on your head. If you can’t wash it, put it into a plastic bag for several days before wearing.
Try to minimize head-to-head
Kids tend to play games that may result in their heads getting close to one another. If possible, limit these types of games or activities, especially when there is a known case of head lice in your child’s school.
Use preventative products
There are products you can use to try to ward off the risk of head lice. One such product is Fairy Tales Hair Care. They offer several natural products you can use on your kids to help prevent or even eliminate lice and their eggs. One of my favorites is Rosemary Repel, which is shampoo you can use daily that can help keep lice from attaching to your child’s head. Yes — naturally!
While there are other products you can try, they use some pretty awful chemicals. Chemicals I sure don’t want to put onto my kids’ heads! When we had a chance to try this product ourselves, I first and foremost loved the fact that it was natural. That gave me peace of mind to know that what I was putting onto my child’s head was safe.
Another product to use regularly during the school year is Rosemary Repel Conditioning Spray. What we love about this is that you spray it on after you comb their hair in the morning and it is like “an invisible force field” to help repel lice, should a case pop up in my children’s classrooms. It smells great and leaves no horrible residue either — which is an added perk.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD GETS LICE
It is a normal reaction to panic when you find that little critter on your child’s head or sheets — or you get a call from the school that they need to come home due to finding nits in their hair. It is not the end of the world, and it is treatable.
The first thing to do is to know that your child did not get lice due to hygiene issues. In fact, lice prefer clean hair over dirty hair. Skipping a bath is not the reason your child contracted lice, nor is it the reason their friend has it either. It just happens.
Your child also usually does not need to stay home from school once treated. You will need to make sure you remove all of the nits (the eggs) from their hair and have treated them before they return to class. However, it is essential to check with your child’s school to learn their protocol and procedures for dealing with lice.
TREAT YOUR FAMILY
The first thing you need to do is treat your child and other family members to remove the lice. Some of the homemade remedies sound great (mayonnaise, olive oil, etc), but they never worked when we tried them.
If you find that is the case, there are many over-the-counter products you can purchase. Make sure that whatever you are buying comes with a lice comb. You need one so you can comb through your hair to detach the nits that are stuck to your hair, as well as remove each of the bugs on the scalp.
To start, apply the product to your child’s hair (according to package instructions). If you want to use something safe, Fairy Tales also sells a lice removal kit. We’ve also used this, and I once again liked that it did not have the same chemicals in it. It also came with a lice comb that made nit removal very easy.
Once the product has sat on the hair for the time indicated on the label, you will go to work. Make sure you have a piece of scotch tape handy. That way, when you find lice or nit, you can stick it to the egg, so it can’t fall off or hop off. It is also helpful to have a very bright light to shine on the scalp so you can see what you are doing.
Start in one section and slowly comb the hair, slowly “scraping” the scalp so you can ensure you are getting any lice that may be hiding. Comb all the way through and out. Continue around the entire head focusing behind the ears and the nape of the neck.
Follow the package instructions for treatment after you have combed out your hair. Repeat this process for your other children and family members.
CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
Once you have treated your family, you don’t want to end up with lice relocating back onto anyone. That means you need to clean everything.
Wash all of the coats, hats, and scarves that they have recently worn. You will also need to wash all bedding, including blankets and comforters. If you have items that do not fit in your machine, you need to isolate them for up a week or so, to ensure that the lice are gone. They can’t live without a human source any longer than that.
Place pillows, stuffed animals and other items you can’t launder into a bag as well. These should also be isolated for several days so that any lice will die out.
Carefully vacuum your sofa, chairs, floors, and mattresses to remove any lice that may be hiding. There are also furniture treatment sprays you can apply to kill off any remaining critters that are in your house.
Dealing with head lice is not fun, but it is possible. It is good to have the products you need on hand so you can try to prevent them from moving in and also those you need if they happen to hitch a ride home on your kids.