3 Quick Steps to Getting Rid of Lice Fast
School’s back in session and that means parents all over the country are getting the call… “Your child has lice, please pick them up now!”
If you’re on the receiving end, it’s common to feel some level of embarrassment. “Not my child?! I swear she washes her hair!” Don’t stress over this – an important “fact of lice” to know is that they just love clean hair!
In fact, head lice are so common in America that the CDC estimates up to 12 million three to eleven-year-olds are infested each year. They don’t come from dirty homes or have poor personal hygiene; your children get lice because they play in close proximity with one another! Infestations can happen as easily as a shared hat, or two heads bent together over a project.
So now that you’ve put the phone down, what’s next? Here are three quick steps to quickly getting rid of lice:
Step 1: Make sure it’s really lice!
Dandruff, dry scalp or some weird substance your child gets on his or herself after crawling through bushes sure can mimic a lice infestation. Often the first alert is because an observant teacher believes they have spotted the nits (lice eggs) in your child’s hair.
Your first step is to confirm that your child really does have headlice. An estimated 12 – 24 million days of school are lost each year to head lice, but not every child kept at home actually has an infestation. Days away from school and work can be detrimental to your child’s learning and an economic penalty when you must miss work.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has already called for schools to end “no nit” policies. They state that head lice are a nuisance, but not a serious disease or sign of poor hygiene. They further find that these policies are unjust toward otherwise-healthy children.
How do you know it’s really head lice? You could take your child into their pediatrician for a check-up. Alternatively, try shining a bright light onto your child’s scalp. The lice appear as brown, sesame-seed-sized insects crawling on the scalp. The nits are small and white. They are usually close to the scalp and appear to be stuck to individual hairs.
Step 2: Treat the lice
Okay, so you’ve found that the suspicion was correct – your child does have lice. Your next step is to choose a treatment.
As a parent, you always want something that is safe for your child yet yields effective results. In many cases, this does not include common pyrethroid treatments found over-the-counter. Permethrin and other pyrethroids are common treatments that have been used for decades. Unfortunately, they’ve also been proven to be ineffective in many cases.
Lice have grown increasingly resistant to insecticides and in some areas of the country, they are one-hundred percent resistant. To top that off, pyrethroids are neurotoxins and can result in a laundry list of nasty side-effects for your child.
Let’s assume you’d rather skip the dicey chemicals and find an alternative lice treatment. Non-toxic shampoos such as dimethicone work by blocking the lice’s ability to get water and suffocating them.
You’re going to have to use a comb along with any shampoo treatment, to carefully remove the nits. What you could do is use a “comb with benefits,” such as the RobiComb® Electric Lice Comb. These work by zapping live lice, killing or stunning them. The combing action removes the nits as you go.
You can treat your child the same day the lice are identified and have them back at school the following day. Be sure to follow up with the comb for 8 to 10 days. This is the time it takes for lice eggs to hatch if you’ve missed any.
Step 3: Prevent further lice infestations
After your efforts to treat your child’s lice infestation, you sure don’t want them spreading further, or coming back! This means acting to prevent further infestations.
It’s helpful to understand some facts about lice. You may have seen people do a panic deep-clean of their entire house, worried that the lice are existing in its very fabrics. This is not necessary. Lice don’t survive for very long without a human host and are not like fleas, which can live in furniture.
Lice don’t fly or jump. They’re not lurking beneath every surface – they need that close contact and blood food-source from humans! Lice will not survive longer than three days without a human.
So what should you do?
- Sterilize all hairbrushes. Clean out any hair and soak in boiling water;
- Look for any hats, clothes or accessories your child has worn in the last three days. These should be washed and if possible, dried for 30 minutes in a machine dryer;
- Wash bed linens and blankets. Put pillows and stuffed animals in the dryer on high heat too;
- If there are other soft furnishings your child’s head has been in contact with in the last three days, vacuum and lint-roll those surfaces (including car headrests); and
- If an item can’t go in the dryer, another option is to put it in the freezer overnight then wipe it clean!
Are there too many items you fear you need to clean? No sweat! Just don’t touch them for three days. Any lurking lice will die without human contact. Remember, they only lay their eggs on human hair.
A lice infestation doesn’t have to cause shame or panic. It’s a very common occurrence in households with school children. Take a breath and follow these three steps to getting rid of lice– your household will be back to normal in no time!
- LiceGuard Webmaster