According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 to 12 million head lice infestations happen every year in the U.S. That’s a lot of lice. Now that it’s school season, whether your child is heading back to school or starting a new school for the first time, it’s crucial to be vigilant when it comes to avoiding breakouts.
Lice are highly contagious, and can easily spread from one person to another. Since children often play closely together in large groups, there’s a good chance that if your child is close to someone with lice, they could share the infestation. The good news is that there are some things you can do to limit your child’s risk of exposure and keep lice out of your home.
1. Do Your Homework
Knowledge is the key to being fully prepared. If you’ve never confronted this particular pest before, take the time to Google pictures of head lice and find out more about them. This might not be the most comfortable experience if you’re squeamish, but at least you’ll know what to look for when helping your child. During your research, make a note of the following symptoms that might indicate the presence of head lice:
- Itchiness around the back of the neck
- Crawling black or brown creatures in hair
- Residue left on hairbrush or comb
2. Teach Your Child to Avoid Head-to-Head Contact
The easiest way to minimize the spread of lice is to avoid direct contact. Kids naturally like to be close to their friends, with plenty of hugs and cuddles. However, it’s a good idea to warn your child against lice, and tell them to avoid activities where their hair might encounter another child’s. This might include asking them to be wary during playground activities, simple gestures like hugging or whispering, and sleepovers.
3. Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
Teaching your child to share is great, but it’s important to let them know that there are a few things they shouldn’t share with their friends. Schools are a haven for lice, so make sure that your child keeps the following items to themselves:
- Brushes and combs
- Hats and helmets
- Hair clips
- Coats and scarves
- Earbuds and headsets
4. Keep Long Hair Pulled Back
Despite what some people believe, lice don’t jump from head to head. Instead, the crawl from one strand of hair to another either during direct contact, or using an item like a brush or comb. If your child has long hair that often falls forward when they’re playing and may easily meet another child’s head, get them to start tying it back. You can pull the hair up into a ponytail, or work together on styles that you both enjoy. A little gel or hairspray in their hair could also contribute to added protection.
5. Deter Lice with Tea Tree Oil
Some evidence suggests that lice hate the smell of tea tree oil. Though tea tree oil won’t kill lice, adding a small amount to a shampoo bottle can help to repel these creatures (it also helps with dandruff, too). Simply add a drop or two of tea tree oil to shampoo to make the most out of it. However, remember to test a small amount against the scalp first to prevent any irritation. There are also repellant sprays and shampoos that you can get from your local stores that may be effective in the same way.
6. Frequently Check for Lice
One of the best things you can do to protect your child against infestation is to make sure that you catch any stray lice that might have made their way into your child’s hair as quickly as possible. Lice can multiply with incredible speed, and it doesn’t take long for eggs to start hatching. Check your child’s hair at least once a week or after they’ve taken a bath or shower to make sure that you’re always prepared to fight back against lice.
7. Treat it Fast!
Finally, remember that when you do find lice in your child’s hair, you need to be ready to treat it as quickly as possible. Remove both the lice and the eggs. There are plenty of over-the-counter products and medications available that can help with this. You’ll need a special lice comb that will drag everything out of the hair, including eggs, and you should also wash the hair thoroughly with the correct shampoos.
Adios Pest Control helps people in San Diego County rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests, including ants, termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, squirrels, and other furry creatures. Get in touch with us today if you are facing a pest problem.