The dreaded lice note from school…it’s bound to arrive in every child’s backpack eventually. While lice don’t transfer diseases or result from poor hygiene, they’re itchy, hard-to-banish nuisances that we’d all gladly avoid. To help you respond to a lice infestation at your child’s school, we’ve rounded up top tips from Circle of Moms members on lice prevention, as well as advice on lice treatments—just in case the little buggers do find a way into your home.
Lice don’t fly or jump. Instead, they transfer through contact. As a result, limiting the surfaces your child’s hair touches can help prevent her from getting lice. “Be sure to send your daughter to school with her hair UP and not long,” emphasizes mother-of-two Marie B. Also, make sure your child avoids sharing hats and scarves.
Coconut-based conditioners and essential oils are also touted by many Circle of Moms members as lice-repelling strategies. “Shampoo and conditioner with coconut is supposed to discourage head lice,” shares New Jersey mom Lorrie B., while mother-of-two Tracy H. advocates tea tree oil: “We always use tea tree oil in shampoo or in a water bottle to mist on hair in the morning.”
Catching Lice Early
Once you become aware that lice are present at your child’s school, check your child’s hair regularly to ensure you catch any lice before they multiply. As Australian mom Jakki T. advises: “The cheapest and most effective thing I’d recommend is weekly combing of the hair with a metal nit comb and lots of conditioner…this doesn't have to take long—in 5 minutes you see if there’s anything there and you can get them before they've had time to breed.”
There are many options for treating lice. Over-the-counter medicated shampoos are often successful, as are prescription medications your pediatrician can provide. Many Circle of Moms members also recommend natural strategies like olive oil or coconut oil. Reynelle H. explains: “Unrefined virgin coconut oil and virgin olive oil contain fatty acids that break down the bodies (exoskeletons) of the lice and kill them.” Other moms recommend using petroleum gels or mayonnaise to suffocate the lice. After most treatments, be sure to comb out the dead lice with a fine metal nit comb.
As Michelle B. advises, be aware that many lice treatments need to be done twice—once to kill the live lice and a second time to get the nits that hatch later: “You have to do it again in a couple of days right when the eggs hatch so that you kill those as well...then you should be lice free.”
Preventing a Reinfestation
Lice can survive for about 48 hours without a human head. After you’ve applied a treatment to your child, clean any items that have been in contact with her head in the previous 48 hours. This includes vacuuming furniture, carpets and car sets, as well as throwing clothes and bedding into the dryer (the heat will kill any lice that linger).
This article first appeared on The RoundUp on March 24, 2011.
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