Christmas isn't the only thing sneaking up on us this time of year. It is also the time of year that lice infestations begin creeping up. Kids are back in school and close to each other. There are extracurricular activities ramping up.
Unlike watching for Santa and his sleigh, during lice season- parents are on high alert for odd head itching. They debate if their kid is developing dry scalp or raising a herd of lice on their head? Is it snowing out or did they spy lice eggs? Dandruff or nits (baby lice?) Oh man, who feels like their head is itchy now after even just reading the word lice?
The first step in being able to treat lice is knowing how kids even get it in the first place. Prevention. A good defense is the best offense. This list is going to give 10 ways that kids can get lice from each other. Then 5 things to check to see if there is an infestation already in progress right under a person's nose. One fact that it seems important to hammer home is that if a kid gets lice- it doesn't mean that they are dirty. In fact, some say that lice are attracted to clean hair. That has to make people feel better. No? Alright then. Let's get into how kids get lice.
15 Taking Selfies
That's right. Remember the last selfie you took with a group of your friends. The way yoyu had to squeeze in close to get all your heads in the frame? Well, imagine elementary/middle school kids doing this. One of them with lice in their poor little head. This is a definite place where they could all be finding a new host. I hope they smile pretty for the picture too. If your kids are going to take selfies maybe make sure their hair is tied back like we have previously suggested. Limiting the number of selfies might help, but can we really expect that to happen. I that is probably cruel and unusual punishment in this day and age to not allow selfies. I won't make you be that kind of mean mom, but do talk to them about being aware of their surroundings. To check where they lay their head.
14 Trying On Hats
Do not try on hats at the store. I think that was the most common thing we got in trouble for at the store. Even so, it's almost impossible to pass by those cowboys hats or masks without slipping them on and getting a look. This not the most common way to contract lice, but it is still possible to get them that way. You should be wary and I don't want to minimize this or the role it can play in spreading lice. It's only that it isn't the largest culprit of the continued spreading of the little buggers. Do teach your children not to try on hats at the store, friends houses, school, or anywhere else that they aren't sure about the status of their hair follicles. Halloween is an especially tricky time to avoid trying on masks and outfits that are out for purchase.
13 Lockers Covered In Lice
Did you realize that if your child shares a locker at their school for coats, hats, and gloves they could be at risk for lice? Me either. Take heed. If your kid shares a locker with a classmate there could be some concern in transmitting lice there. If they take off a coat/ hat and it touches the other child's the lice could walk on over to new real estate. Lice can live up to 24 hours away from a human host. So during the school day, if the lice hop over to the coat in the morning, it will live long enough to transfer to another child by the next recess. It also could stay put and get back on the child he rode in on. The shared locker is one thing that I hadn't considered and if there is a continuous need to treat for lice in your home you may need to look at the possibility of getting single lockers.
12 Being A Girl Means More Room For Lice To Grow
Can girls ever catch a break? Not in this case. I'm so sorry. Lice prefer girls to boys in the majority of cases. That doesn't mean that your boy can't get it, but the environment in a girl's hair is a little more inviting. There is more room and hair typically on a girl. The longer hair gives more opportunity to move from person to person. If heads are close by. Lice cannot jump far or fly. They have to rely on proximity to another target to get anywhere. If your daughter's hair is long and generally unruly, this could be a little bit of a risk factor. See if she will allow you to tie it back out of her way. That way it doesn't come into contact with another child's hair and bring in some unwanted new friends. I would assume if they conducted this study with long haired boys, they might find the results a little different. I would not let my guard down if I had boys.
Well, of course, a good hug is going to likely have some head to head contact. Try to avoid doing that. Maybe you could only hug taller or shorter to people in order to meet their hairline directly? Or is that going to be weird? Fine, let's go with the tried and true advice of tying back your hair into ponytails and buns. Try to not give a lot of time for the lice to run to your head. You may also want to take a look at some of the natural ways of keeping lice away. Tea tree oil is a popular one to use to repel the lice. These kinds of treatments can give you peace of mind. It's better than living in fear of having running into lice throughout the whole school year. The other thing that might come in handy is a fine tooth comb. Comb through hair weekly to see if you find anything.
10 Shared Naptime
There is a rule that I live by which is that nobody, and I mean nobody gets to touch or use my pillow. It turns out that I am the smartest person in the world. Be like me and don't let people use your pillow. Go a step further and teach your children the dangers of allowing others to use your pillow. Those dangers are going to include lice and also a less important but factual reason that other people might drool on it.
Lice can most definitely spread if there is pillow sharing going on. If kids share naptime mats at school they can be transmitted that way. The rule of 24 hours holds for this too. Lice can live over 24 hours without their host. It is therefore of the utmost importance to not share a pillow with anyone. Don't let your husbands tell you any different.
9 Not Being African American
It turns out that lice tend to be less prevalent in African Americans. This is according to a study done in the United States cities. I am not aware if it has been duplicated in other countries to check if the outcome was similar. The lice didn't run through African American families like it did with Caucasian families. It's theorized that they have a harder time getting their claws into the hair type. The individual hairs seem to be a little bit thicker and harder for the lice to grasp on to. Say it with me "Awww, poor lice." Ha, kidding. We don't feel bad for those darn lice. It has also been stated in a few sources that in general lice prefer hair that is not as curly. The straight thin texture is easier for them to scuttle around on. Another reason to love that natural beautiful hair.
Have you tried Vamousse?
8 Head To Head Contact
Remember how in teams your asked to put your heads together and come up with solutions? It turns out they don't mean that literally. 90% of cases of lice are spread through direct contact. That is head to head where they can skittle right down one person and into another. If your child has long hair it is likely a good idea to keep their hair in a ponytail or bun in order to keep it from touching other children. This will help to lower the risk of getting or spreading lice. It may surprise you to learn that most are spread that way. I know that we were always lead to believe that lice could jump great distances. This is not true. Lice cannot fly or jump great distances to get to another host. The means be aware of how close you are getting to other people's hair.
7 Sharing Towels
It may surprise you to learn that lice can hold their breath for a very long time. This means that when you go swimming in the pool, it doesn't ensure that you are safe. Make extra sure that you are not sharing towels with friends at the pool. Make sure you aren't sharing shower caps or sharing swim caps. Goggles also could be responsible for spreading lice. As they would attach to the headband part of the goggles. Do not let your guard down in the swim area or showers. Lice are able to be underwater longer than we can and they are looking for their next meal. Making sure to not share items that go on their heads even when soaked should help keep them safe from a lice infestation. The pool water is unlikely to wash off any of the eggs or nits from the hair. Swimming will not wash away these little buggers.
Much like hugging, wrestling can cause more head to head contact than we would necessarily like. Do you know what I'm going to recommend here? That is absolutely right. Do their hair in a ponytail or bun. Switch it up try pigtails and braids. The thing about the wrestling is, that if your kids are anything like mine, the wrestling is not sanctioned. These are impromptu wrestling matches with no rules and thus it's a tricky one to put the kabosh on. Again the natural treatments to ward off the lice before they can even come close are the way to go here. Unless you are magic and can make your children mind your "no fighting" rules. Tea tree oil and a few "just in case" lice treatments are going to be your best friend here.
5 Too Late If: Itching Scalp
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if your child seems to be itching like crazy they could be infested with lice. This is going to be mainly around the back of the head and around to the ears. Lice are nocturnal bugs. This means that they will likely be a little more active in the night. Thus if they complain of a feeling of crawling on their head at night that makes them itch, they might not just be trying to avoid their bedtime. Then again they might be. Good luck sleeping tonight without feeling like your scalp is crawling. The itchy scalp thing can be tricky because when the weather changes into the fall they could have dry itchy skin. See more tips below to get a clearer picture of what other signs there are.
4 Too Late If: White Specks In Hair
Originally the specks might be thought to be dandruff. The sure-fire way to be able to tell is to move the hair. If these were flakes than there would movement. You could flip the hair over and you would see "snow" flakes scatter to the ground. However, if you flip your head and everything stays put or you move the hair around the white specks and it looks like it is actually stuck to the hair shaft. These stuck little white things are likely not flakes. They are instead lice eggs. I'm so sorry to tell you that. These little eggs are coated and sticking. They are waterproof. If you see these, you are going to want to do some treatment. Those eggs hatch in about 7-10 days. Comb through the hair and wipe off the comb on a tissue and place in a ziploc bag.
3 Too Late If: Red Bumps On Head, Neck Or Shoulders
When checking your son or daughter for lice look for signs that there is anything out of the ordinary on their head neck and shoulders. You may find small red bumps. They might be from itching. More likely they are from the lice biting. I know that is such an awful thing to picture and I know that you are likely feeling creepy crawlies on your own scalp now. Lice feed off of tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. This is how the tiny red bumps form. These aren't always hidden on the scalp under the hair either. You can find them occasionally on the neck or shoulders as well as the head. This is where you should start your searching when it comes to finding those little buggers. Then move up into the hair parting in different sections to look.
2 Too Late If: Sores
As spoken of previously the lice feed off of the little bits of blood from the scalp. The only way to get to that blood supply is to have bitten through or gotten someone to itch deep enough to give them a little more food. Examine the scalp carefully especially after observing the small bumps. If they are feeding it is off of the sores. This means that there are more than eggs in the hair at this point. If you have not done any treatments, then you need to start doing them now. Also, wash all bedding and clothes. Lice can only live away from their food source at most 48 hours. Placing anything that was in contact with the infected person in ziplock bags for a week will do more than enough to rid the lice from those few items. Cleaning furniture and other items as you see fit to rid them of the bugs as well.
1 Too Late If: Seeing Nits And Lice
The final way to tell if you have an infestation is if you get the scare of your life and find one crawling out to say hello. You will see that lice are about the size of a sesame seed. They move rather quickly so if you are trying to spot them you are best able to do it with a magnifying glass and a flashlight. Again a small reminder that they cannot fly. That doesn't mean that we will begrudge you a small "yip" or screech after seeing them for the first time. Nits are lice, but they are much smaller. They are much smaller. When you comb through the hair, the nits are going to be dark tiny things that stick in the small toothed comb. You are going to want to get rid of these the same way as described earlier in the article. That is to put them on a tissue and then place them in a ziploc bag. Then to put the baggy in the garbage