Head Lice

Lice-Busting Tips for Back to School

Lice have for years been something that parents (and teachers) fear—and while it has long been associated with lack of hygiene, in reality that’s not what drives the problem. There’s even a new type of “super lice” that seem to have evolved to resist over-the-counter treatments.

Head lice are not actually dangerous (they don’t carry diseases), but can be unsightly and cause your child to scratch their scalps continuously, which can lead to infections, notes Healthline.com. However, while your child prepares to hit the books again, here are six helpful tips to try and avoid the problem (that can get kids sent home from class)…

1. Don’t Share Apparel

If you suspect one of your children has head lice, due to symptoms such as itchiness or visible nits or ticks, then it’s probably best they don’t share hats or other items of clothing with siblings or friends, suggests the Mayo Clinic.

While head lice don’t jump from one person to another, they can quite easily hitch a ride on hats, scarves, brushes, hairclips and even headphones, according to the clinic. If you’re not sure whether it’s lice causing the problems, visit a doctor to have a closer look.

dress up

2. Don’t Use Your Head

Well, what we mean is that your child shouldn’t use their head when playing with others and make direct hair-to-hair contact (we realize this may be more difficult than it sounds). Also, kids probably shouldn’t hug, another tough thing to avoid—especially on the first day back to school.

If your child invites friends over for a sleepover, try to encourage them not to share pillows and space themselves out appropriately when it’s time to hit the sack (far enough so the ticks can’t make the long crawl to their new host). So, use your head about not using your head.

kids playing

3. Lice Should End Up in Hot Water

When doing to laundry, separate bed sheets from clothing and instead of choosing the cold cycle, use hot water to neutralize the lice and their eggs. According to Patch.com, lice can’t survive off a host for more than a day; so make sure you wash items often.

The source notes to wash items right away if you suspect they’ve been shared—like a jacket, for example. Just make sure you follow the washing instructions to avoid destroying the garment. “Give it a good, hard wash to make sure any possible critters won’t survive,” notes the source.


4. Try the Special Shampoos

If you’ve pinpointed an infestation of these little critters on your child’s head, then try buying special lice shampoo that’s available off the shelf. Combined with fine combs designed to pick out the bugs, you could be winning the war quickly.

If your child still has lice after using the over-the-counter products, then you may be dealing with the so-called super lice. In this case, or visit your doctor for the stronger stuff—these new and improved lice still can’t withstand some prescription treatments.

head lice

5. Create an Unwelcome Environment

We mentioned before that lice outbreaks aren’t a result of a lack of personal hygiene, but you may want to take precautions by cleaning combs in an anti-lice solution to ensure they can’t jump back on for another ride. “Very hot” water is also effective as part of this process, notes Canadian Family magazine.

While you’re at it, this is a great time to vacuum around the house to suck up any lice that may have jumped ship. Rugs, couches, mattresses and even car seats should be targeted—if anything, you’ll have a nice, clean house and vehicle when you’re finished. For items that can’t be washed, seal them in a plastic bag for a week to kill off any interlopers, adds the source.


6. Perform Regular Inspections

When you’re affectionately rubbing your child’s head as they watch their morning cartoons, it’s a good opportunity to inspect for lice without alarming them. MedicalNewsToday.com explains louse eggs can appear like dandruff, but are oval and attached to hair close to the scalp.

A young louse can be white or grey-brown in color, adds the source. They are very small—”smaller than a pinhead”— and can grow into an adult in about 7-days. Mature lice are about the size of a sesame seed (1/8-inch) and can live for about a month on a host. Female lice can lay up to 8-eggs per day and are generally larger than males. Catching an infestation early can help eradicate it.

Lice check

Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.