'Tis the Season: How to Protect Against Lice

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

liceSome kids have started school already, but for many it is still a few weeks away. Personally, there is nothing that gives me more anxiety than the thought of lice coming home on the heads of my kids. I am itching right now, just thinking about it. Here are some ways you can help protect against lice. Head lice lay tiny, teardrop-shaped, whitish eggs in shells called nits. The nits attach to individual hairs with a tough, gluey cement, making them impossible to remove with ordinary shampooing. After a 7 to 10-day incubation period, the nits hatch, leaving behind a dull gray casing. They mature within a week and start the cycle again. Lice are very contagious and spread through direct contact. So when kids lie together or touch heads, or when their toys touch or when they share hair brushes, lice can be spread easily. And then, guess what... they spread it all over the house when they come home. Although lice do not carry disease, they are extremely itchy and uncomfortable for those who are affected. Since fall seems to be the time of year that lice spread, here are some handy tips to help decrease the likelihood of your child bringing them home. Remind your child not to share anything that touches their head – from hats to headphones. Use a shampoo containing fatty acids such as coconut oil or tea tree oil. Do weekly louse screenings. Part your child’s hair and examine her scalp in a strong light. Check for tiny white glistening eggs or gray casings that are hard to dislodge. If your child has them, check everyone in the house and inform the school. So you have done what you can to avoid them, but your child has been sent home. Now what do you do? Here are some tips to help get rid of lice, naturally: Shave their head... just kidding! Luckily there are less drastic treatments! Choose a natural lice treatment like Well in Hand Nit Kit (you can pick it up at our pharmacy). You must use a nit comb to dislodge lice and nits. Disinfect the comb afterward. Because most products don’t work on both nits and lice, repeat the treatment seven to nine days later to get newly hatched lice. Recheck frequently for another 2 to 3 weeks. Always read instructions carefully. Wash anything your child’s head has touched, including linens, towels, and clothing, in very hot water, and then dry in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. Store brushes and head gear that can’t be washed in plastic bags for several days or in the freezer. In winter, store the items outside for 24 hours. Vacuum rugs, upholstered furniture, mattresses, pillows, and car seats. Since head lice can’t live for more than a day or two without a host, concentrate on your child’s scalp rather than on the house. If lice infestation is something that you are familiar with, you may want to try a homemade delousing shampoo. There aren’t any scientific studies to prove that this recipe works, but many of our customers have used the following recipe with success. It’s a great preventative shampoo, as well. 3/4 cup warm water 20 drops tea tree oil 20 drops lavender oil 5 drops hair shampoo Combine all ingredients and use mixture to wash hair. Leave lather in hair for 5 minutes, being careful to avoid getting in eyes. Rinse and repeat until you’re sure all lice and nits are gone. By the way, this also works for dogs and fleas! (I swear by it.) Photo from here, with thanks.