Treat Head Lice: Five Tips for You and Your Kids
As your first grader was sitting at the table doing her homework, you noticed that she was scratching her head frequently. After dinner, you received the dreaded phone call. "I am so sorry to have to tell you this," your friend began, "but we just found out that Sarah has lice. You are probably going to want to check Jessica as she was at Sarah's party last weekend." At this point, you had to just sigh and wonder if you could shave your daughter's head and begin a new trend. It was time to put the bonbons down and get out the rubber gloves.
Tip One: Check for Head Lice
Head lice are tiny, but they can be seen by the naked eye. You will need to take your child near a bright light-or even outside on a sunny day. With rubber gloves on, carefully part your child's hair in small sections and look on the scalp, behind the ears, and around the nape of the neck. Nits, or lice eggs, look like yellow, tan or brown dots, and they will be on hair shafts close to the scalp. They will look a little like dandruff, but they cannot be brushed away. Adult lice will be a brownish color, and they will be no bigger than a sesame seed.
Tip Two: Do Not Use the Wrong Treatment
Most people use medicated shampoos, creams or lotions to wash away the lice, and these can be over-the-counter or prescription. What most people do not realize is that these lice treatments are actually insecticides. Insecticides can cause very bad side effects, especially for very young children, the elderly, and anyone under 110 pounds. There are safer alternatives.
Tip Three: Choose a Safe Treatment
Natural products that will take care of the lice and the nits. They work immediately. There are other products that help make the nits easier to remove. Some dishwashing detergents also can help dissolve the sticky substance keeping the nits attached to the hair shaft. If you use a nit comb, either rub olive oil through the hair or run the metal comb through beeswax first.
Tip Four: Rid the Lice from Your House
Wash any bed linens and clothing that had any contact with the child who had the lice. This should be done in hot water, followed by a hot dryer for at least twenty minutes. Anything that cannot be washed should be dry cleaned. Vacuum your house well. Soak hair care items in rubbing alcohol for at least one hour.
Tip Five: Do not do the "Don't List"
There are a few things that should not be done when ridding yourself of lice. You should not wash your child's hair for one to two days after treatment. You should not use a cream rinse or conditioner before treatment. Some of the treatments are flammable, so do not use a hair dryer. Do not use bug sprays or exterminators to get rid of the lice because their chemicals can be harmful. Do not use the same medication more than three times for one person, and do not mix any medications.
Preventing Another Lice Outbreak
Once you do a round of this, you never want to do it again. To prevent that, you will need to have a talk with your child. They need to know that they should not touch heads with anyone else. Tell them not to share helmets, hats, barrettes, combs, brushes, scarves, bandanas, head bands, hair ties, or towels with anyone else. You should let your school, daycare or church know if there is a lice problem, so it can keep from spreading.
Photo Credit: Gilles San Martin