9 Tips For Parents On How to Prevent Your Kids From Getting Lice
Now that school is back in full swing, things are busier and you will inevitably be faced with the usual colds, flu and, in some cases, head lice.
Head lice infestations are actually quite common among children of school-going age, especially if they are under the age of 8. With around 6 to 12 million kids being infected with head lice each year, how can you, as a parent prevent your child from getting this unwanted pest?
Common questions parents and teachers ask about lice:
Contrary to popular belief, head lice has nothing to do with cleanliness and everything to do with kids being in close proximity to one another. This article will discuss the best ways in which to implement lice prevention for your kids. Let’s take a look!
Lice Prevention #1: Know what to look for
The first step in head lice prevention is to know what to look for. This sounds quite obvious but if you do not know what lice and nits look like, you will not be able to detect them. The best way to familiarize yourself with head lice and nits is to have a look at some images online. Especially familiarize yourself with what nits look like in the hair, because you will spot these before spotting lice. A good way to scan for lice and nits is to lift the hair up from the back of the neck. Also, part the hair at various places around the head to look for lice and nits. Do this under bright lighting and use a magnifying glass if needed.
Once you know what lice and nits look like, you will be able to nip the problem in the bud, before it becomes too big of a problem.
Lice Prevention #2: Check for lice on a regular basis
Once your kids have gone back to school, routine checks for head lice should be part of your regular routine. Don’t wait until your kids tell you they have lice or until you see them scratching.
This can be time-consuming but it is an important step in head lice prevention for kids. Head lice are, by their very nature, very small and incredibly fast and are often not recognized unless nits are present on the head. Nits (lice eggs) are more visible but are commonly mistaken for dandruff. Nits are glued to the hair strands, but at the very bottom of the hair strand, which make them even more difficult to spot. Still, they are more visible than lice.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are able to remove the so-called nits, they are probably not nits but lint, dirt or dandruff. Harder to remove particles are more likely to be nits. You should check the back of your child’s hairline on average once a week for the presence of nits. If they complain of an itchy head, this should be a red flag (although it takes around 6 weeks for the itching to become noticeable).
Lice Prevention #3: Do not share hairbrushes
One of the easiest ways, and most common ways for lice to spread is through hair brushes and combs. Don’t allow your child or anyone else to become a victim this way and ensure that no one in your household shares hair brushes or combs. If your kids have trouble recognizing their own hairbrush, buy each child a different color brush and write their names on it with a sharpie. Don’t be like some parents and wait until one of the kids has lice, and then takes action. Make it a household practice.
Lice Prevention #4: Do not share clothing for the head
Another of the easiest ways, and most common ways for lice to spread is through sharing clothing. Because lice can survive for up to 24 hours without a host, they can easily be transferred onto clothing that is worn on the head, such as hoodies, hats, hair ties, headphones, and scarves. An effective way to ensure head lice prevention for kids is not to allow them to share any clothing that comes in to contact with the head.
Lice Prevention #5: Do not share sports gear for the head
Lice can also be transferred through the sharing of sports gear very easily. If your child plays a sport where there are hats and helmets or even neck gear, be sure and tell your child not to share their hat or helmet, even momentarily.
Lice Prevention #6: Create a barrier on public seating
As mentioned above, lice can easily survive for up to 24 hours without their host. This means that they can live on some surfaces, including public seating on buses, trains, planes and movie theaters. Especially if there is a place to rest one’s head. A great way to prevent head lice is to create a barrier between your child and the seat. This can be done with the use of a scarf or a small blanket. Just make sure that you wash the scarf or blanket afterwards!
Lice Prevention #7: Prevent head lice at sleepovers
Kids love sleepovers, but this comes with the risk of spreading lice. Instead of being a party pooper and not allow sleepovers, just prevent lice from spreading altogether. A clever way to try and prevent your child from contracting lice is to make sure that the children sleep in a star pattern, with their feet meeting at the center. This way no one’s head is touching or in close proximity.
Lice Prevention #8: Keep hair short or tied back
Research has shown that the longer a child’s hair, the more likely they will be to contract lice. Keep in mind, lice are primarily transferred by head to head contact. With this in mind, you may want to have boys hair as short as possible and consider having girls tie their hair back into a bun or tight braid, should there be an infestation at the school.
Lice Prevention #9: Use your clothes dryer to kill lice
If you suspect that your child may have been exposed to lice, ensure that you throw all bedding, clothing and soft toys directly into your dryer for 20 minutes, where the high temperatures will kill any remaining lice.
The above lice prevention methods, when used together can be highly effective in the control of spreading lice. Also, teach your kids to practice these tips to be most effective in preventing them from getting lice.