How to Prevent Head Lice.
Last week, I received a letter from Gabriella’s school stating that there have been reports of head lice at school.
My heart sank.
My stomach wrenched and as I read through the entire letter, I slowly started to freak out while bile erupted in my throat (okay, maybe not that last part) but, the pics I researched after definitely caused nausea. It really gave me a swift kick in the rear end. It was an exact realization that head lice is a part of early school life and quite frankly, it scares the heck out of me.
I can say that I’ve been lucky enough to have never had lice in my life and have never actually seen a live one.
And I thank my lucky stars for that.
Well, I went through my entire school career without it and remember nervously sitting there while an attendant patiently prodded my hair with a gloved hand that brandied a wooden apparatus. Thankfully, always getting a clear.
Well, I’m a huge advocate for prevention and awareness. Yes, even when it comes to pests, if you missed my post on bedbugs, you can find it here. I believe prevention can aid in avoiding many a headache, especially when it comes to illnesses AND parasites. I’m going to share with you my tips on what I’ve been doing to so far, keep my home head lice free.
1. Do Your Research.
First and foremost, do your research. If you’ve been lucky enough to have never confronted this pest yet like me, Google pictures of head lice and nits. I sure as heck did, but brace yourself because they are not pretty. Become familiar with what you will be looking out for. For a reference, lice pictured next to a match are smaller than the tip. Lice need warmth and heat to thrive and once they have a source or host they will begin to lay eggs or “nits”. Once those eggs hatch they are even smaller. Lice get their nourishment off of human blood and be prepared because it will be a long battle to get rid of them.
2. Be Vigilant.
Once you know what you are looking for be meticulous and persistent on checking your child’s hair at least once a week. They may not like it but, I’m sure they would like those critters in their hair much less. I go as far as quickly checking my eldest’s hair everyday quickly in the morning as I do her hair. Make sure to check the back of the head and behind the ears. It is said to be a favorite hiding spot for these buggers. I usually look out for anything out of the norm and during the winter months, the scalp tends to be dryer and may cause flakes. Make sure that those “flakes” really are a result of dry scalp by pulling it down the shaft of the hair. If it is a flake, it will come off but, if it’s a nit–it won’t budge. Know the symptoms. If you notice that your child is continuously scratching their head or back of the neck, make sure to check for lice.
Look for tell-tale signs of lice, which are an itchy scalp, red spots on scalp or any rash-like bumps on the back of the neck. Also, watch out for nits, they are the eggs that are laid on the hair shaft and are pictured above. If you do find these, it is a sign of infestation and you will have to treat your child’s hair. It is also advised that you quarantine everything your child has had contact with and disinfect it appropriately.
3. Sharing Isn’t Always Caring.
Make sure you teach your children to avoid sharing hats or sweaters etc. Teach them that some things just aren’t meant to be shared. To store their coats in their own locker/cubby instead of piling it with other kids’ belongings. Lice can live on the belongings of a host for a couple of days. Tell them that lice cannot jump on them but, transfer from direct head to head to contact with kids who have lice. Advise them to keep their heads away from other people, simply said. Kids will be kids and they shouldn’t live in fear but, if you know your child’s school has a lice outbreak, make sure to remind them to steer clear until the school gives a green light.
Clean all objects that your child uses on a regular basis. This is usually normal protocol for us moms anyway. Including sheets, pillow cases, combs, hair brushes, hats etc. If your child has sleepovers or attends one, make sure he/she has their own sleeping bag and pillow and when they come home, bag them and wash them at your earliest convenience. Like I said, this is what you’d most likely do anyways.
4. Put Tea Tree Oil in Your Shampoo Or Buy It.
I think one of the most inexpensive ways to deter lice is to buy Tea Tree Oil and but 5-6 drops into your shampoo bottle. This is good for the whole family. It doesn’t smell bad and once you dry your hair the smell is very minimal. There’s something about it that lice really don’t like. I happily use it with the hope that if my kids come home with lice, they may not want to make my head their new home.
If you want to really avoid and prevent lice naturally, try using shampoo that contain coconut oil and olive oil. They have fatty acids that break down the exoskeletons of the lice and kill them. You can also try shampoos and conditioners that contain tea tree oil, menthol or eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and rosemary oil. They don’t like the smell and are less likely to stick around. There are many shampoos on the market for both children and adults and there are many to choose from. They also make conditioners, de-tangler sprays and styling gels. Zippity Doos and other brands make natural shampoos and conditioners that won’t hurt your kids.
5. Spray It.
One of the things that I have used in hopes of preventing head lice to enter our home is lice preventing spray. I stock piled ZippityDoo’s spray that you can spray on back packs and clothes. This same line also sells hair spray and gel that prevents lice and is all-natural. I only recommend this brand because I use it and it’s worked for us. If you can’t find this brand in particular, I know that there are many brands out there sell similar products.Once you choose a brand, you can get the spray to at least protect their bags and coats so that lice doesn’t hitch a ride into your home.
6. Enjoy Life.
Just know that with school-aged children. This is VERY common, there is a stigma behind head lice since yes, they are gross. But, just know that head lice doesn’t choose “dirty” people. Lice doesn’t discriminate and actually prefer clean hair. If your child comes home with it, don’t fret, you can effectively get rid of lice with the proper treatment.
Most importantly, LIVE your life and be happy! It doesn’t take me very long to do these tips and they have become a part of our daily routine but, it doesn’t take over our lives. It may happen or it may never happen but, the more you know the better!
Since I received the newsletter from the school about other kids having lice, I have been using the recommended shampoo called ZippityDoos that is an all-natural, mild shampoo safe to use everyday on children’s hair. It is made with natural ingredients, including Lemongrass, Rosemary, Geranium Extracts, Tea Tree Oil, Ginger and Lavender which helps keep those suckers away. It’s pediatrician approved. I’ve since run out and have been using Rosemary oil in our shampoos.
*UPDATE* Unfortunately, ZippityDoos is not on the market anymore. There are other options out there or you can use preventative measures that you learned here!
We’ve used the shampoo and it has helped in preventing lice but, I’ve also followed the 6 Ways to Prevent Head Lice tips as well. If all else fails, there’s many other options you can use to get rid of lice if you aren’t able to prevent them.
But, I will continue to try to prevent from having to deal with it and you can too!
Lets not even give them the chance.
How do you prevent lice?
Let me know, til then, cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela, and wife to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.