By: Rachael Bilello, DO (MD Kid Care, Jericho, NY)
No one wants it. We, as parents, do our best. We try. We really do. We put their hair up. We warn them not to share brushes, hats, headbands. We spray “anti-lice” sprays every morning. And yet somehow they still manage to come home with lice. And then you deal with it. It’s not fun. It’s tedious if you do it at home, and expensive if you have it done by a pro. But it goes away. And no one is truly hurt. (Scarred, perhaps, but not hurt.) Either way, we all make it through. And we realize, no one is immune.
If your child gets lice, it’s not because their hair is dirty. It’s not because your house is not clean. It’s not your fault, and probably not even theirs. If your child does not get lice, you’re probably just lucky.
If you do decide to conquer the little buggers yourself, here are 10 head lice hacks I give to my patients.
1. Use over the counter lice shampoo (Rid, Nix) as directed.
2. Lice shampoo kills live bugs, but the nits (eggs) must be removed manually.
3. Comb through hair, in tiny sections, from root to tip using a nit comb (often comes with shampoo), removing all nits.
4. Comb through hair with a nit comb every day for 1 week.
5. If live lice persist after 1 wk, reapply lice shampoo and repeat above steps.
6. Put all hair brushes, hair elastics, bows, headbands into a ziplock bag and into the freezer for 2 weeks
7. Change all bedding, washing it in hot water, drying on high heat.
8. All plush toys, decorative pillows, dolls, etc should be either dried in the dryer on high heat for 5 minutes or bagged in a garbage bag and left in a basement/garage for 2 weeks.
9. Vacuum couches, car seats, and rugs that the infested person may have laid on.
10. Wash and dry on high heat all clothing, jackets, sweatshirts, hats, scarves that the infested person may have worn in the last few days.
A few things to remember about head lice:
○ Head lice cannot fly. They crawl really fast with head to head contact.
○ Head lice hold on tight! They are not washed away with showering or while swimming.
○ The best way to prevent head lice is to wear long hair pulled back in a tight bun and avoid touching heads and sharing brushes, headbands, and hats.
○ Head lice are not always itchy!
○ The nits are super tiny, sometimes whitish/grayish/brownish…yes perfect to blend in with hair.
○ If your child’s been exposed, have his/her head checked by someone with experience. It’s helpful to continue checking on a daily basis, as the nits are tiny and easy to miss.
○ Even if you haven’t been exposed, it’s a good idea to comb through your kid’s hair with a nit comb once weekly. You can’t always prevent it, but if you catch it early, it’s less of a hassle!