Another school year…your child will come home with new friends, new learnings, new stories, but what you don’t want them to come home with, is a new case of head lice. So you guessed it, pediculosis is a head lice infestation. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestations each year in the United States in children 3 to 11. If you have a child in that age range, you should definitely know what to do in case you find yourself in the middle of an infestation.
If you know there’s an outbreak in your child’s school there are some steps you should take to prevent an infestation in your house:
- Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact. So as a first line of defense, teach your children to not share things that go on their heads. That includes combs, brushes, hats, headphones, towels, etc.
- Once you get word of an outbreak, look carefully at the clothes your child has worn over the past two days for lice and their eggs. What are you looking for? Something a little like this.
- Check your child’s head for eggs and lice. Granted, you probably already have a big problem by the time you spot them, but catching them can help you prevent them from spreading to the rest of the house / family.
Your child has head lice. Now what?
- Get yourself some lice medicine, also called pediculicide, and follow the instructions on the bottle.
- Do not wash your child’s hair for 1-2 days after treatment.
- Dress your child in clean clothes and wash any clothing, sheets, towels, etc. that they’ve been in contract with in HOT water (130 degrees).
- If a few live lice are still found 8–12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not retreat. The medicine may take longer to kill all the lice. Comb dead and any remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine–toothed nit (lice) comb.
- Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 5-10 minutes after use.
- Vacuum any affected areas.
- Take preventative measures. Do not let other family members use the same pillows, blankets, towels, etc. before ensuring that they are free from lice, so the infestation doesn’t spread to others in your household.
If you need more info, swing on over to CDC.gov.