Head Lice- What You Need to Know

It’s back to school time, and often that means your child will come home with head lice. When discussing lice, we first need to clear up a misnomer… lice aren’t found just on a dirty head. Lice actually prefer a clean healthy scalp. Lice do not discriminate. It’s not about how clean your house, clothes, child or even you are; lice are found in every school district across the country. Lice will jump to any head near them- period.

On a lighter note, lice do not carry or spread diseases. However, their bites will cause itching, irritation, and swelling. Any open wounds can lead to infection, so check any scabbed areas for unusual coloration or oozing.

So what do you need to look for as your child comes home from their busy school day? Below are a few tips to help you identify and rid yourself (and child) of lice.

nitsIdentifying a Lice Infestation

Itching: If you see your child scratching do a section by section search of their head. Lice like to hide, but they are visible to the naked eye.

Small Red Bumps or Scratch Marks: The irritation caused by the bites will leave red irritated bumps.

Eggs/Nits: They are generally little dots that are white, yellow, tan, or brown in color. Eggs are actually attached to the hair strand are found very close to the scalp as they need to be warm to hatch. They cannot be removed just by shaking your head or cleansing with regular shampoo.

Adult Lice/Nymphs:
About the size of a flee or a sesame seed, the lice and nymphs are usually grayish, but can range in color from tan to slightly darker almost brown.

Steps to Stopping the Infestation

Understanding how lice spread is the first step to avoiding catching or spreading the little buggers. Children are highly prone to catching lice because of the amount of close physical contact they have with each other.

Bedding and Recently Worn Clothing: The infected person’s bed linens and recently worn clothing need to be washed in very hot water (130°F) then dried on the hottest cycle for a minimum of 20 minutes. Younger children should have all their stuffed animals washed and dried as well.

Combs and Brushes: Throw them away! Then tie off the garbage bag and put into an outside container.

Furniture in the House: Vacuum upholstery and carpets and throw out the bag or empty the canister in a garbage bag and throw out in an outside container.

Head Check: All household members should have their heads checked and recheck every 3-4 days for two weeks to ensure your house is louse-free.

Treatment can be tedious but lice can be taken care of at home.

Pro Tip- LiceFree Spray: This spray can be found in the pharmacy area of the grocery store, not in with the regular shampoos. Follow the directions COMPLETELY. You must comb out the hair with the nit comb. This is a slow going process but is necessary to ensure you remove eggs as well as hatched lice.

Always Treat Twice! Due to the life cycle of lice, you should always treat an infected head a second time, usually two weeks later. Then continue to do a head check for another couple of weeks.

DO NOT GO TO A SALON! Salons are unable to work on a guest with lice. In fact, if a guest has lice the stylist must throw out everything that has touched them. Capes, towels, combs and brushes. Then the trash is tied and thrown out in an outside container. The chair is disinfected as is the flooring and station. This is very costly to the stylist, who has to buy all new tools and to the salon that must replace capes and towels. You cannot return to the salon for at least two weeks after home treatment.

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