In today's day, there is one word that sends parents in panic mode LICE! There is nothing that strikes fear in a parent the way a letter saying, “A kid in your child’s class had lice.” Well, maybe one, “Your child has lice.” Let’s start by learning what lice are, how to prevent them, how to get it out of your kid’s head and finally getting the house clean to avoid them coming back.
What are lice?
A louse is a wingless, bloodsucking parasite. Head lice have to be near the skin to survive. They can only live off the head for only a very short time. The louse has three stages, nit, nymph, and adult. During the nit stage they can live off the host for as much as ten days, during the nymph stage, they must be attached to the host immediately, or they will die. Full Grown lice can survive at most a couple of days but usually will only survive a few hours away from the host.
It would be nice to think lice is just a dirty people bug. Lice do not jump, and so close contact or sharing of common items are the only way for lice to go from one person to another. They key to lice prevention begins with not sharing the following things hats, coats, brushes, combs, hair bows, ponytail holders, headphones, stuffed animals, sun glasses, napping space. If your child comes home with lice, to prevent reinfection, you NEED to let the school know. By letting them know they can begin to find the kid’s infected, clean their classrooms and start doing preventive measures in the classroom to limit your child getting the little pests again. If you spent the day in the classroom and you suspect a kid might have lice then alert the teacher. If you hear rumors or another mother from you child’s class shares a lice horror story, then please share that with the teacher. Plan a time each week to just do a quick lice check (YouTube Tutorial). Lice can bein your head for several weeks before symptoms start and so by faithfully doing this small thing you can be aware of a problem before it gets out of hand. Most of the time by the time parents know their kid has lice there are tons of lice and nits. Two of the most critical areas to check are the nape and behind the ears. The key is do NOT freak out and realize that getting lice is a NOT a sign of uncleanliness.
Signs you might, or your child might have lice. Itching that doesn’t seem to stop. Red bumps on the scalp, neck or shoulders. A note home from the teacher letting you know another kid has lice.
Getting rid of Lice There are tons of products on the market for killing lice, but the truth is it’s a long battle. First, as much as you will hate doing this head to your local drug store and pick up an over the counter lice removal medication or call your trusted hair stylist they often have access to stuff that isn't always found over the counter. You could also check with your doctor they might have one they have had success with in their practice. I recommend Fairy Tale because I’ve seen it work for clients. FOLLOWING directions and be ready to reapply because I’ve never seen any product finish the job in just one application. You will need a small nit comb. If after the treatment, as you are going through the hair, lice, are not dead or at least moving slower then these lice could be resistant to the product you are using. Contact your local health department or doctor for some other recommendations. You will need to continue to use the comb checking for lice and nits every couple of days for around three weeks to be sure you have killed all the nits and lice. You will need to read the directions to see if you will need to retreat with the product. Because this can take a lot out of hair as a hair stylist, I recommend when you are lice free you do a deep mositure conditioning treatment. You might be frazzled, but so is your hair.
Top to bottom house cleaning for lice *Start by stripping all the beds and pillow cases through the house and machine wash using hot water and high heat setting on your dryer. *Soak combs and brushes in boiling hot water for around 10 minutes. *Vacuum floor, furniture, wash any dirty clothes recently worn by the infested person don’t forget their coats and hats. *Put things such as stuffed animals, and uncased pillows into a sealed plastic bag for two weeks. Some Great Resources and Information An excellent resource for information on Georgia and the laws regarding head lice in school can be found here, as well as more advice and education on lice. Georgia Head Lice manual Center for Disease Control HeadHunters (Atlanta, GA)