Head lice infestations are most prevalent among pre-school to elementary school age kids 3 – 12 years of age. In fact, the CDC has reported that 6-12 million lice cases a year occur within this age group and their caregivers, which means lice can happen to any family at any time.
A common misunderstanding is that lice can only happen to families that have poor hygiene. In fact, just the opposite is true. Lice love nothing more than a clean head of freshly washed fluffy hair.
Lice is highly contagious and is transmitted for the most part by head to head contact. Head lice can also jump ship from the hair and lurk on surfaces such as clothing, stuffed animals, carpets, bedding, and upholstery lying in wait for the opportunity to crawl onto their next host. Once there, they will lay their lice eggs on the hair closest to the scalp of their unsuspecting new host. It is important to note that lice cannot jump or fly, so lice can only spread by contact with an infested person or object by crawling, and head lice can crawl remarkably quickly.
Knowledge is key in head lice treatment and prevention, so the first important thing to do is to know how lice operate and what lice and lice eggs, which are called nits, look like. The first time my daughter had head lice, I had no idea what lice bugs and lice eggs actually looked like. I thought the nits in my daughter’s hair were just a bad case of dandruff from having a dry scalp. Boy was I wrong! It may never be a good time to Google “Head Lice” and “Head Lice Nits” to look at images, but I highly recommend it.
There are ways to limit your family’s headlice exposure with these simple tips and tricks. Lice repel products really do work, so if you combine head lice repelling products with certain lice prevention behaviors, your chances are pretty great that you will avoid a case of lice this school year.
Here are 12 back to school lice prevention tips to help your kids avoid getting head lice and to stop them from bringing home these unwanted louse-y guests.
1.) Dirty It Up!
Since lice love to make their new home in clean hair, and they do not like strong scents, spray the hair with a lice- repelling spray with essential oils like Rosemary, Mint, and Lavender. Tea Tree essential oil works as well, but it can be very astringent and drying to the scalp.
2.) Tie Up Long Hair
Make it difficult for lice to find a way onto your child’s head. Put long hair in a bun or braids, which may lower the chance of getting a lice infestation as there is less hair for lice to attach themselves to, and it is harder for head lice to grab onto hair that is tied back.
3.) Spritz Clothing And Back Packs With A Natural & Non-Toxic Lice Protection Spray
LiceLogic Clear & Free All Purpose Lice Spray is enzyme based, and actually kills lice and nits. It also acts as a lice repellent spray.
4.) Teach Your Children To Not Put Their Heads Together
The way kids play often involves them sitting very closely together with their heads touching, while reading, playing video games, or taking selfies. Lice like to crawl from head to head, and they can also “trapeze” from hair strand to hair strand so keeping heads apart is a very helpful way to prevent the spread of head lice.
5.) Educate Your Kids To Not Share Hairbrushes & Hair Accessories With Each Other
Children often like to play with each other’s hair and love to share hair accessories with their friends. Lice can be hiding in hairbrushes and combs, and on hair ties, head bands, and other hair accessories. One trick is to store each child’s hairbrush and hair accessories in separate zip lock bag with their name on it to keep them lice free.
6.) Explain to your kids to not roll around on shared high traffic surfaces like classroom carpets and mats.
Head lice can live for a day or two off of a host’s head. So classrooms are breeding grounds for spreading head lice. A lice infestation can quickly infect an entire classroom of kids as it lice spreads like wild fire. The less contact a person has with these types of surfaces the better, which will help your child avoid picking up a bad case of headlice from school.
7.) Avoid Using Shared Classroom Ear Phones & Ear Buds
Explain to your kids that lice can be spread by using shared head phones and ear buds, and any other objects that are transferred from student to student in the class, especially ones used on or near the hair. If Possible, have your child bring their own to be stored in a zip lock bag in their cubby.
8.) Do Not Share Hats & Helmets, Hoodies, And Scarves
Often there are dress-up bins in the classroom that have hats. Let your child know not to put on any of the hats and accessories since lice can be hanging out - just waiting to find their new home on your child’s head. Also, during sports, it is advisable to not share helmets with other kids. If they must share, ask the coach to get a natural lice spray to spray down the inside of the helmet between each use.
9.) Use Lice Prevention Shampoos & Conditioners
Did you know there are shampoos and conditioners formulated specifically to help prevent and repel lice? You can use these safe lice repel products year round in place of your everyday shampoos and conditioners. Natural essential oils like Rosemary, Peppermint, and Lavender are highly effective to help prevent headlice as lice do not like their strong scents. For an extra layer of protection use ones that are also infused with natural plant based enzymes like our LiceLogic Repel Kit in Lavender or Rosemary Mint.
10.) Lice Proof Sleepovers
Instead of kids sleeping with their heads next to each other, arrange the children in a star like pattern on the floor with their feet touching. Also, make sure the kids do not share pillows, bathrobes or bath towels. The next day, roll up all dirty sheets, pillowcases, and towels and put in a sealed plastic garbage bag until you have time to launder them.
11.) Accessorize Public Seating With Scarves
Bring scarves for each member of the family to lay over the head rests of seats in movie theaters, air planes, and taxis. This will help provide a buffer between you and a creepy crawly head louse left behind by a lice infested person.
12.) Turn Up The Heat
When you suspect your child has been exposed to lice from camp, school, friends, and other family members be sure to throw their quilts, bedding, sheets, pillows, towels, and stuffed animals in the dryer on high heat for at least 15 minutes which will effectively kill lice, nits, and even super lice.
Kids back in school and you'd like to prevent lice? Grab our LiceLogic Repel Kit!
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