Head lice are a common epidemic effecting between 6 and 10 million people per year within the United States. Most parents will experience their child having head lice at some point when the child is between the ages of 3 and 10. So, what do you do?
- If you have found a live bug, you need to start treatment as soon as possible. If you choose to use a head lice product, make sure that you read the instructions properly. Use approved and well documented products only! If your child has exposure, you will need to comb the head lice out to ensure the infestation is removed. Buy a proper thin-tooth comb for head lice removal. You will need to wet comb the hair at least four times over the next two weeks.
- Check the rest of the family for head lice by combing their hair. It is very likely that another member in the immediate family is infested with head lice. Mothers with one child who has lice have a 54% chance of having it themselves, while mothers with two children who have lice have an 87% chance of having head lice.
- Notify relatives, the school and/or school nurse, after school recreation center, playmates, grandparents or friends who your child has been in contact with. The head lice came from somewhere and have probably spread. You want to be proactive by informing everybody so that you can eradicate head lice.
- Wash the immediate bedding of the individual with head lice, and put their hair brushes, hair ties, etc. in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for 3 hours. Stuffed animals that the child sleeps with and comforters can be thrown in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat.
- Do not wash all the clothes, spray the house down, vacuum all surfaces, put household items in the freezer, or spring clean your house because of head lice. Head lice only live on the scalp. Head lice are transferred by head to head contact. If head lice falls off, they are either dead or dying. There is no need to waste energy cleaning the house or worrying about whether the household pets or teddy bears are infested.
- Do not beat yourself up about it! Head lice are a common problem, and we all have to be proactive in treatment and prevention. If the lice infestation returns, it is likely that someone within your child’s immediate friend group still has it.
- If your children are in school, you should check their heads once a week for head lice. Always examine your child’s head if you learn of another student in their class with a head lice infestation.