Lice. Ugh, lice. Those icky, crawly, make your head itch just thinking about them, pests that we hope never infiltrate our homes. Most parents with school age kids know the drill, but if you”ve never received that dreaded ‘someone in your child’s class has lice” notice, here’s what you need to know.
Lice cannot jump or fly, they move by crawling and latch on to human hair. The most common way lice spread is through head-to-head contact with someone who is infested—which typically happens among kids at schools, sleepovers, afterschool activities, and camps. Lice cannot live without a host for more than 24 to 48 hours, but there is still a chance of catching lice from an inanimate object—like a couch, pillow, or stuffed animal—during that window, if recently used by someone infested.
With school in full swing and camp on the horizon, now is a good time to educate kids about lice and ways to prevent it. Kelli Boswell, RN and owner of Lice & Easy, an urgent lice removal clinic in Colorado, recommends the following tips:
- Remind kids to avoid touching heads directly. Even for a quick selfie, if there is head-to-head contact, the risk is there.
- Don’t share clothing and personal care items that touch the head such as: brushes, hair accessories, scarves, hats, headphones, or helmets.
- Take your own sleeping bag and pillow to slumber parties.
It may help to use a lice-prevention shampoo and conditioner that contains mint, peppermint, and neem oil to help repel lice, however the FDA has not approved any prevention products for safety or efficacy. Never use a lice-killing shampoo as a preventative measure, they have no preventative effect and contain strong active ingredients.