Getting head lice can be irritating and cause your child to be the outcast of the school playground. These parasitic creatures live on the human scalp and thrive on the blood they draw from it. It can cause itching and some redness on the scalp. It is highly contagious, which is why parents are immediately notified of the problem as soon as the school nurse discovers it.
Here are some ways to prevent a head lice infestation.
- Know the symptoms. If you child complains of an itchy head, or says that there is a tickling sensation or something moving in their head, it’s probably lice. Some children with sensitive skin may have some redness or swelling. If you have a fine tooth comb and you can get your child to sit still for a few minutes, check his head. If you see tiny white or yellow things attached to the hair or scalp, it’s lice.
- Use a medicated shampoo formulated to kill lice and its eggs or nits. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions or the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully.
- Use the shampoo again after a week to kill any eggs that may have hatched or any other lice left behind. Do not use any lice hair product on children younger than two years old as the formulation is considered an insecticide.
- Wash any towels, bed linens or articles of clothing in hot water recently used by the person with lice. Use the hottest water settings available. If the clothes are not machine washable, bring them to the dry cleaner right away. Don’t leave dirty clothes used by a person infected with lice hanging in the closet after use.
- Have any plush stuffed toys laundered or dry cleaned immediately. If you can’t afford to have all the toys dry cleaned, brush it out then place in a plastic bag. Tie the end so it is airtight and leave it in the bag for at least two weeks.
- Make sure your child does not share hair accessories with other children or people. Each person in the home must have his own comb and brush. Teach your child not to share hair ribbons, helmets, hats and caps with other people. This is one of the quickest ways head lice can transfer from one person to another.
- Regularly clean any hair accessories such has headbands, barrettes, comb or brush thoroughly in hot water and soap. Soak it in a solution of alcohol and water, or water with some of the head lice shampoo. If you are unsure of the cleanliness, throw it out and just replace it.
Do not be embarrassed if someone in your home is diagnosed with head lice. It is not an indication of poor hygiene or socio economic levels. Any one can get head lice, although it is most common in young children and more often found in girls than boys. Take your child to the doctor for a quick remedy.