Starting school is an exciting time for both you and your child - your child will grow, learn, and experience new things while you have a little more free time on your hands to commit to your family, your job, or yourself. Your child being in school, while exciting, can also be a source of anxiety for reasons of contracting illness or lice from other students. We as parents do all we can to protect our children from getting sick, so we should do the same when it comes to head lice. Luckily, preventing head lice is a lot easier than it seems, and it all starts with a little bit of knowledge. That’s why we’ve laid out ten tips to prevent your child from bringing home lice and other bugs from school.
The biggest tip that we suggest involves beginning with educating your kids about head lice. By simple explaining to them what head lice is, how they get head lice, and even showing them pictures of lice will often be enough to instill some moderate heebie jeebies in your kiddos. However, it is just as important to explain to them that having head lice does not mean a person has poor hygiene and it is never something they should be ashamed of or bully others over.
A common misconception is that lice are more common in girls than boys due to long hair --- the truth of the matter is that since girls wear their hair in buns and ponytails more often, thus limiting access to the scalp, boys are more likely to have head lice. That’s why we recommend keeping hair in a ponytail or bun, especially in times where there is notification of lice in your child’s school.
Sometimes your child’s school will perform routine head checks of the entire student body for lice. But you don’t have to leave this in the hands of the school. Taking the time to check your child’s hair for lice (using a comb and brushing through hair) will not only allow you to take control of the situation, but also will give you a few extra moments of post-bath bonding time with your kids.
When it comes to kids sharing head lice, sleepovers can be a nightmare. Sharing pillows and blankets, hairbrushes, and being in close contact with other children and their homes can be a nightmare. A great tip to have healthier sleepovers is to sleep in a circular flower shape with feet towards the inside rather than the outside so children’s heads are far apart when sleeping.
When children arrive at school, sometimes they get so excited to see their friends that they don’t pay attention to where they place their coats and bookbags. Often times this can result in piles of coats and other fabrics that may contain lice, so make sure to remind your child to keep coats and backpacks hung up whenever possible, both in the home and at school.
As far as tips go, this one may be the most basic. Not sharing hats is a common sense tip that keeps children from sharing items that are extremely close to their heads. Not only should you warn your children not to share hats, but making sure your child has their own hats (so they aren’t tempted to wear someone else’s hat) will prevent the spread of lice.
A louse can only survive away from a human scalp for a maximum of 48 hours. This means that it is basic survival for lice to look for a new home as soon as they leave a child’s head, making hair brushes a nightmare to share. Not only is it important that your child doesn’t share hair brushes with others, but keeping brushes separate from parents and siblings can minimize a lice outbreak in the home.
There’s no way to keep your child away from other kids and the world without ridding them of a variety of opportunities. This means that they may come into contact with lice even if you use as much caution as possible. That’s why it’s a great idea to frequently wash and dry fabrics and items that come into contact with many children -- including coats and scarves, backpacks, and car seats.
Though not proven to prevent head lice, there is evidence that rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lemongrass oils repel lice. These oils are not FDA approved to prevent lice because they can irritate skin and can be flammable, but using shampoos that contain these oils or scents may play a role in lice prevention.
A great idea for preventing the spread of lice is to create a barrier between your head and where other people's’ heads may have been in contact. This includes movie theater seats and bus seats. Whenever possible, bringing a scarf to drape over the head of a seat will not only add a little bit of comfort to your day, but will put your mind at ease when it comes to spreading lice. (Pro-tip: wash these scarves frequently!)
Sending your child to school for the first time is often a point of anxiety for parents just as much as it is a proud milestone. By teaching your kids these handy lice prevention tip, you’ll be ensuring not only your peace of mind, but the health and comfort of your family. If your child does catch lice, however, don’t panic. Hair Whisperers is a professional lice-removal company in Southern California with a lice-free guarantee, perfect for ensuring that your child is back to having safe, clean fun.