Treating Head Lice: Tips for Parents

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As a mom, it’s a terrifying moment when your child comes home from school one day scratching their head. Classrooms are breeding grounds for the white, itchy, bugs that give us all the heebie-jeebies: Lice!

Despite all of a parent’s best efforts, the icky truth is that it can happen to your kids. In fact, 85% of U.S. school districts report an outbreak of lice every year.  

So to help you deal, here are a few tips and tricks, as well as some common lice myths debunked. Read on! 

How to Prevent Lice

To prevent lice, you’ll need to teach your child these ways to steer clear of the bugs- and make sure you explain to them why they aren’t allowed to share certain items.

 

  • Don’t share hats, scarves, helmets, pillows, combs, brushes or headphones.

 

  • Keep long hair up in a pony tail or braid.

 

  • Do weekly head checks – check the “hot spots.” These are the back of the neck, behind the ears, and part lines.

 

  • Keep clothing in separate cubbies or in a bag – not exposed on a coat rack.

 

Common Lice Myths

Myth #1: Lice like dirty hair.

This is false! Lice actually like clean hair because it’s easier to attach to a clean hair shaft as opposed to a dirty one.

Myth #2: Lice can live for a long time off the head.

False again! Lice only live for 24-36 hours at most without a host.

Myth #3: Lice carry diseases.

False! This is a big myth. Lice do not carry any diseases; they are just a big nuisance.

Myth #4: Lice prefer long hair.

False! Lice have no preferenec for long or short hair.

Myth #5: Pets can carry head lice

Also false! Lice are human parasits and so they can only survive on human blood.

How to Check for Lice:

Look at the “hot spots” (back of neck, top of shoulders, part lines) on your child’s head weekly. A louse is as small as a pencil tip- so look closely! They are fast too. The louse will be glued to the hair shaft about ¼ inch to ½ inch from the top of the head. Be careful to not mistake a louse for dandruff, dirt or product for a nit. An insider tip: if you can blow it away, it’s not a nit.

Also, remember to pay attention to your child. If you notice them scratching their head frequently, check it out.

How to Tell Your Kids They Have Lice:

First, explain to them that it has nothing to do with cleanliness – like we said before, lice actually like the cleanest hair! Then, carefully clarify where they got the lice from. Tell them they got it from someone else who already had it. Make sure you mention that it’s nothing to be ashamed of- 6-12 million other kids get it each year. Then, explain that you will sift through their hair for a long time to remove the lice. Remember, don’t use the word bug!

As a parent, don’t panic. Many other moms have experienced the same thing (just check out our ModernMom Chronicles!). Just follow our expert prevention methods to avoid the little buggers.

Remember, if your child contracts lice, it’s not the end of the world. Check out a few other ModernMom articles:

My Kid Has Lice! What Do I Do Now?

Tips to Get Stubborn Lice Out of a Child’s Hair

(If you need a little humor, check out: The Lice Battle: No Shame, No Gain)

(20 Facts About Headlice [Infographic] – An infographic by the team at Giraffe.ie)

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