As your children head back to school this year, it will be time again to keep your eyes open for that most unpleasant, yet most common, invasion—head lice. With the start of school, the health departments always see an increase in incidents. Knowing a few basics about head lice will help you cope with this irritating infestation.
You can help your children avoid getting head lice by explaining to them that they move from person to person by direct contact, for example, by using another person’s comb, wearing another person’s hat, scarf or hair barrettes. Tell your children to never share personal items. But, even that may not be enough to keep your child’s scalp safe. Tumbling mats, napping mats, cots, and pillows may house lice, as well. Lice can be just about anywhere, on clean surfaces as well as soiled.
One common myth is that they are attracted by dirty hair, clothes, bodies and homes. This is not true. So keeping your child’s hair and clothing washed is not going to be the easy solution to a common problem.
The main symptoms of head lice are constant itching and the feeling of something crawling around on your scalp. Kids may not recognize these symptoms, so it is up to you to periodically check your child’s scalp for lice, since it’s easier to get rid of them if you catch them early. If you see your child scratching a lot, you may indeed have a problem. If the itching continues, but you can’t see any signs of head lice, you may want to visit your doctor just to double check, since they aren’t always easy to see.
How to Spot Head Lice
Female lice lay eggs on the scalp. The eggs are usually a tan or brownish color, which is why they are so hard to find. Once these eggs hatch, the lice hang onto the strands of hair, and the female lice keep the cycle going by continuing to lay eggs. Often the first thing spotted is the ‘nits,’ or the empty eggshells, since they are white. They are, however, sometimes mistaken for dandruff. The difference is the nits are quite sticky and adhere to the hair, while dandruff is dry and flakes off easily.
If your child does end up with lice, it’s best to start treatment immediately, so that they don’t spread and so there is less chance of a scalp infection. Many doctors recommend RID (which contains lindane) to remove the infestation. RID kills the adults, hatchlings, and eggs. Next, wash all clothing, bedding, brushes and combs, and anything else your child’s head may have come into contact with in order to remove any eggs. You can add Lysol cleaner to the washing machine to help kill the lice in the wash water. Furniture and carpets should also be vacuumed and shampooed.
If you don’t like using chemicals, you can try this home remedy. Comb Tea Tree Oil through the hair and massage into the scalp. Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic and may help kill the lice. If you don’t see results in a day or two, you might need to use lindane. The infestation has to be stopped one way or another in order to prevent infection. So, don’t stick with a system that isn’t working. The important thing is, no matter what method you use to fight head lice, the removal of the lice from the hair is crucial. Use your RID kit and diligently comb through your child’s hair to remove the eggs, nits, and lice. Then, wash everything that may have been in contact with the eggs. This is not an overnight process, so be prepared for weeks of repeated cleaning.
Use lice prevention hair care products every day to protect the whole family! Organic herbs such as rosemary, tea tree and citronella found in Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel® Shampoo & Conditioning Spray are proven safe, and effective ways to help repel lice. Use the shampoo routinely to make sure the little ones are protected before they even take off out the door.
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Disclosure: I was sent the above product in exchange for this post. No other compensation was given. All opinions are mine alone.