Keeping Head Lice Away
Head lice is an unfortunate but common part of school days.
While there's no hard and fast tip that allows you to prevent it altogether, Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Pediatricians follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' advice, including these tips and informational tidbits:
- Head lice have nothing to do with hygiene or income level; anyone can get them.
- The most common route of transmission is head-to-head contact, such as two kids bending over the same coloring book.
- Because lice can't live long off the scalp, it's much harder, but not impossible, for lice to be spread by sharing hats, brushes, hair accessories and combs. Encourage kids to avoid sharing things that have been on or near another child's head, including hairbrushes, combs, hats, scarves, towels, helmets, pillows, sleeping bags, etc.
- Head lice like really clean hair, so many parents opt to use a little styling gel or mousse and blow dry children's hair.
- Teach your kids to hang up coats and hats on individual hooks, or some other separate area when they get to school, instead of just throwing them in a pile with other classmates' clothing.
- Regularly clean things that your child's head has direct contact with, such as car seats, pillows, head phones, etc., especially if your kids are sharing these items with other children.
- Review some head lice pictures to help you understand what you are looking for in your child's hair, including live lice and nits (lice eggs).
- Check your child for nits and live head lice at least once a week, keeping in mind that although you may find head lice anywhere, they are often found at the back of your child's head, near the neck and behind the ears.
- Be extra vigilant for head lice if there have been frequent reports of head lice at your child's school or in your child's classroom.
- Recognize the symptoms of head lice, which include an itchy scalp and small red bumps or sores on the back of your child's neck and scalp.
- Don't panic if your child must be treated for head lice.
- Remove all of the nits on your child's head when your child has lice, since missing some nits (lice eggs) is a common way for kids to have a persistent infection, as lice keep hatching and keep the infestation going.
Do you have more questions about head lice, or need a pediatrician? Use the "Find a Doctor" tool on this site.