How to Prevent Your Child From Getting Lice, and What to Do if They Do
Having children means at some point you are likely to be faced with an outbreak of lice either at their daycare or school. As their parent, you do not want your child to have to go through long, tedious hair lice treatments nor the uncomfortable itching often associated with it, and therefore want to avoid a lice infestation at all costs. This can be very difficult, especially since young kids are often in close contact with each other, with little regard for personal space. There are some steps you can take to try and prevent your child from catching head lice, but if they do catch it there are a variety of treatment options available that should have everything back to normal in no time.
Avoid Lice Like the Plague
A case of head lice can be a tremendous inconvenience for you, and it can also be very embarrassing for your child. Having head lice is often viewed as something ‘dirty” but this is far from true. Having head lice has absolutely nothing to do with hygiene. Yet despite this fact, children with lice are often teased by their classmates. It is important to know the facts about how head lice are transmitted to lessen the odds of your child contracting a case of it. More than 90% of head lice cases are transmitted through direct, head to head contact. The chance of contracting head lice through the sharing of hats, brushes or helmets is unusual. This is because lice eggs or “nits” are not capable of hatching off of a human head and the lice bugs themselves can usually survive for only 24 hours. Explain to them, and remind them often, why they should avoid head to head contact with other children. Of course, this is easier said than done. The best prevention for head lice is awareness and frequent checks by the parent.
If possible keeping hair pulled back tight in a braid or bun can help deter lice. Adding gel, mousse or spray may also help because it helps keep flyaway hairs in place and reduces the likelihood of a bug crawling into the hair. In addition, spraying the hair with a mint based product may help to deter them.
What if It Didn’t Work, My Kid Has Lice
If, despite your best efforts, your child wound up with lice, don’t worry. Catching the early signs such as seeing nits, noticing your child scratching their scalp, or seeing small red bumps on the back of the neck will help make treating it faster and easier.
As for hair lice treatments, there are a number of options. You can sit and try to pick out the nits yourself, or you can take your child to a professional and have them make sure that each and every nit is removed—lessening the chance that you will miss one and the infestation will come back or spread to another member of your household.
Trying to keep your child from getting lice may seem like an impossible task, but a few simple preventative measures may save everyone the headache of having to deal with lice.
About the Author
Tina Smith is a CRN and School Nurse who has over 20 years of experience in the children's health care field. In her spare time, Tina enjoys blogging about various children’s health issues such as diet, exercise, and hygiene.