Let’s talk lice! These tiny, wingless insects can infest the human scalp and feed on blood from the scalp (gross). They are a common nuisance, especially among school-age children because they are primarily spread through direct head-to-head contact and kids don’t always understand the concept of personal space. They cannot jump or fly, but they are quick crawlers and can move quickly from one person’s hair to another’s.
Getting head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene or dirty living conditions. They can infest anyone, regardless of cleanliness. They are surprisingly resilient, so it does not matter how often you wash your hair, sooner or later they will make their presence known. The most common symptom is itching, caused by a reaction to the bites.
Prevention is the key so here are our best tips and tricks to prevent these creatures from taking up residence on your or your loved one’s scalp:
Embrace the Personal Space
Avoid head-to-head contact, especially during play and group activities. We aren’t saying we need to go back to keeping six feet between you are your neighbor, but a little personal space goes a long way.
Don’t let your head touch your friends' heads, even during secret sharing. Otherwise, you may be sharing more than secrets.
Sharing is Not Caring
Do not share things that touch your head.
Combs, brushes, hats, scarves, and headphones are yours and yours alone. If someone needs one, figure out a way to get them their own. Make sure each family member has their own personal items like combs, brushes, and hair accessories at home.
Long Care Special Care
If your child has long hair, consider keeping it tied up or braided during the school day.
This reduces the opportunity for lice to transfer to their hair. Lice are also less likely to cling to hair that has hair products like gels, mousse, or hairspray applied to it.
Check It Once and Check It Twice
Perform regular hair checks for head lice.
Regular checks can help catch infestations early and prevent them from spreading in your household. Adult head lice are very small, about the size of a sesame seed, and are pale gray or tan in color. Nits, or lice eggs, are oval and usually yellow to white in color, attaching firmly to the hair shafts near the scalp.
If you find out you or your family member has lice, DO NOT PANIC. While lice can be a nuisance and should be treated properly, they do not carry diseases. Treat promptly, and continue to perform regular head checks to ensure the infestation has been completely eradicated.
While these tips can reduce the risk of infestation, they cannot guarantee complete prevention. Lice happens. Even to the best of us. If an infestation occurs, addressing it promptly and effectively can help minimize its impact.