With the start of school right around the corner, buying new school supplies isn’t the only thing to worry about. The school year means your kid will be confined in a classroom with other kids all day. That’s right – a breeding ground for lice! If your kid has never had lice, it can be difficult to pinpoint it and get rid of it. Here are the facts about lice that you need to know.
What Are Lice?
Lice are six-legged parasites, about the size of sesame seeds, that live on the human head. Nits are the eggs that females glue onto individual hair strands near the scalp and they are even harder to spot. Head to head contact is usually required for lice to spread because they do not have the ability to jump or fly. However, lice are known to spread and reproduce quickly. They feed off the human head, so they cannot survive without one. But, they do survive submersion in water, so you can’t just have your kid take a shower to get rid of them.
Is it Preventable?
All you can do is teach your kid how to avoid getting lice. Make sure they do not share hats or hairbrushes with anyone. Additionally, have them avoid direct contact with someone who has lice. Remember that lice are not dangerous, nor are they signs of a child’s poor hygiene.
How Can I Tell if My Kid Has it?
Only 1 in 3 people who have lice experience itchiness. If they are experiencing itchiness, it will most likely be more severe behind the ears or at the back of the neck. In the bathroom, use a thin-toothed comb to comb through a strand of hair several times, inspecting the comb after each stroke. Check for movement or nits, which are transparent when empty or black when they have not yet hatched.
What Should I Do if My Kid Gets it?
Parent’s first reaction when they find out their kid has head lice is panic. But, panic is not proactive. Here are the steps you should take immediately. Once you’ve confirmed your kid has lice, you should treat the problem with anti-lice shampoo, if you see live lice in their hair. If you find nits further than 1 cm from your kid’s scalp, they may have already hatched or do not contain lice in them, indicating that it may not be a live infestation. Each night, inspect your child’s hair and remove any lice or nits you find. Wash all of your child’s clothing and bed sheets in hot water. If you want to avoid washing everything, at least put them in the dryer for about 20 minutes to kill the lice. Also, make sure to vacuum the house to remove lice from the carpet or furniture. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you only have to clean items, clothing, bedding and carpeting that has been in contact with the infestation 24 hours to 48 hours before treatment began. Anything that cannot be washed, like toys, should be placed in a plastic bag for a few weeks to starve the lice.
If your kid has lice, then it’s a good idea to check everyone in the household, including yourself. If the lice doesn’t go away after treatment, you should visit your doctor because he or she may prescribe a stronger lice medicine. Children can usually return to school after they have been treated with a lice shampoo, even if they still have nits. But you should continue to search and pick out the nits at home.