What Really Works For Avoiding Dreaded Head Lice

Posted on

No one wants to think about the possibility of getting head lice, and you, like many, may be looking at ways to prevent getting them in the first place. The good news is that there are tried-and-true ways to prevent the lice from spreading to your family and home, and if someone in your household still ends up getting them, there are ways to stop the problem from spreading to other members.

No Sharing

Teach your children early on to never share brushes, combs, headbands, hats, or anything else that could contain lice. Even sharing neck scarves, jackets, shirts, and headphones can be problematic because hair can touch them and drop off a few unwanted travelers. If you have older household members who keep trying to share these things, put your foot down and get them to stop. Anything that touches your head and your hair can transmit lice, even if they look fine.

This can be a problem if you are shopping for things like hats and scarves. If you are shopping and you have to try things on, do so quickly. Theater productions are another problem; if your child is in a drama class and has to wear a hat as part of the costume, that could be a mode of transmission. You may want to inspect your child's hair and scalp a few times during the weeks when the drama class has its rehearsals and productions to ensure nothing funny is happening.

The one exception to the no-sharing rule, per the Mayo Clinic, is safety gear. For example, if your child forgets her bike helmet, but her friend lends her one, it's better for her to wear the helmet.

No Touching

Head-to-head transmission is another problem. Teach your children not to touch their heads against their friends' if possible -- for example, if two of them are joking around -- but realize that your child might not be able to prevent a friend from suddenly leaning in and resting his or her head against your child's.

Official Complaints

If you notice lice problems at your child's school, and the school doesn't seem to be taking them seriously (or the teacher isn't, or some parents aren't, etc.), you can complain to higher-ups. If the teacher doesn't think lice are a problem, notify the principal. If the principal doesn't care, go to the school board. Speaking with a higher-up often results in action because few people, especially school boards, want to deal with a lice problem. They'd rather get rid of it quickly.

Jumping on Existing Lice Problems Immediately

If the worst happens and one of your family members ends up with lice, take care of the problem immediately to prevent anyone else from getting them. Wash all affected items like brushes in hot (not warm, hot) water with soap; launder sheets and pillowcases in hot water (again, hot, not warm). If there's something you can't wash, seal it in a plastic bag for a couple of weeks because lice can't survive that long, and the eggs won't be able to hatch.

See your doctor if you continue to have issues with lice, or if you want more information about preventing them.