The minute your child starts school, they’re at a high risk of catching head lice. It’s estimated that between 6 million and 12 million children become infested with head lice each year. It’s a common problem which can be notoriously difficult to solve. Just when you think you’ve seen the last of them, there they are again.
So, how can you ensure you eliminate these pesky pests once and for all and is there a way to prevent your child picking them up again? Below, you’ll discover some top tips to get rid of head lice and whether it’s possible to prevent them.
Dry Pillows, Comforters And Stuffed Toys
Before treating your child’s scalp for head lice, you’ll want to take care of their pillows, comforters and stuffed toys. Remember, lice don’t just infest the scalp, they also pass on to anything your child comes into contact with. So, without treating their bedding, soft toys and furnishings, the lice will simply continue to infect the scalp, even after it has been treated.
The best way to eliminate them from pillows, comforters and stuffed toys, is to dry them on high for around 20 minutes.
Wash Your Child’s Bedding
While the pillows, comforters and stuffed toys are in the dryer, you’ll want to place your child’s bedding in the wash. This will ensure any lice which may have transferred onto your child’s bed sheets, will quickly be eliminated.
You’ll want to continue to check the bedding for any additional lice each day. You can easily do this with a sticky lint brush. It’s also a good idea to vacuum carpets, rugs and furniture that your child has been in contact with.
Check Everyone’s Scalp In The Household
One of the worst things about head lice, is they are quickly passed on to others. They don’t just have a preference for children’s hair – they’re more than happy to transfer to an adult scalp.
So, you’ll want to check everyone’s scalp in the household to ensure the infestation hasn’t spread. If others are infected, you’ll want to ensure you wash their bedding and pillows too.
Avoid Natural Treatments
Some parents swear by natural lice removal methods. However, they’re certainly not as effective as appropriate, specialized treatments. So, you’ll want to avoid natural treatments such as tea tree oil, rosemary and butter.
You may also be tempted to shave the hair, but this is unlikely to work either. This is because head lice live very close to the scalp, so shaving isn’t going to touch them. The only way it would work is if you shaved all of the hair off. But why do that when there’s an easier alternative?
The Nit Comb
The nit comb is by far the most effective tool to eliminate head lice. However, it’s worth noting that it isn’t going to be fully effective when used on its own. You will therefore, need to use it alongside an over the counter head lice medication.
Start by running the comb through your child’s hair, taking care to comb every inch of the scalp. The comb you use should have teeth which are situated close together. You’ll also want to dip the comb in a little conditioner and then baking soda if your child has quite fine hair. If they have thicker hair, just dip it in conditioner. The trick is to cover small sections of the scalp at a time, using a 45-degree angle. Comb in every direction and also run the comb along the scalp several times too.
Once you’ve given the hair a good initial combing, wet the hair and apply conditioner before wrapping it in a towel. This will eliminate a lot of the excess moisture. Remove the towel and then begin combing through the hair for a second time. This time around, it’s best to focus on larger portions of the hair. Just be sure to work quickly as head lice are fast and will scurry off the minute they’re exposed. After you’ve combed the entire head, either boil the comb for a few minutes or leave it in an ammonia disinfectant for 20 minutes. You’ll need to repeat this step ever day for a period of 5 days.
After the 5th day, you can ease up on the combing until week two. It’s really important to give the hair one final comb through in the second week after the initial treatment. This will ensure the head lice are definitely gone.
This is how to best use a nit comb. However, as mentioned earlier, you will need to use a proper over the counter medication too for best results.
Over The Counter Medication
You can buy many different types of over the counter head lice medication. However, the best tends to be the shampoo treatments. Always use the medications exactly how it says to use them on the label.
After the first initial treatment, it’s recommended you reuse the medication on day 9. This will ensure that any lice eggs which may have hatched, will be taken care of.
Visit Your Doctor
If you’ve already used two treatments of head lice medication but they’re still persisting, it’s worth visiting the doctor. They will be able to prescribe stronger medication to eradicate the lice.
Can Head Lice Be Prevented?
Although the above methods do work extremely well, it’s still a headache treating a lice infestation. So, is there a way to prevent them in the first place?
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent head lice. It’s natural for children to pick lice up from school due to the sheer number of children they’re interacting with. However, there are some things you could try to minimize the risks.
Firstly, teaching your child not to share certain items with other children will help. This includes things such as brushes, helmets, hair accessories and towels. You’ll also want to teach them to avoid head-to-head contact.
Overall, head lice can be frustrating to deal with. However, if you follow the methods above, you should find them much easier to eliminate.