That four-letter word that can make parents, school nurses and teachers especially squirm: lice. Head lice infestation, which has become as prevalent as the common cold, infects an estimated six to 12 million children ages 3 to 11 each year in the US.
First, you should be aware of some lice facts that will hopefully ease some of your fears. Lice can only crawl; they don’t jump or fly, so you do NOT need to worry that lice can jump from an infected head to a coat or hat and back onto another head.
Lice need can only survive 24-48 hours without the warmth of a human body or blood to feed upon, so they are not living in brushes, clothing or seatbacks beyond that window.
Most lice infestations are contracted from actual head to head contact, like when children’s heads touch like in a close hug or a selfie photo.
Best ways to prevent lice
- Use lice prevention products, such as shampoo, conditioner and spray, that contain a combination of mint, peppermint and neem oil that attack a louse’s “olfactory” nerves. Thankfully, the smells that lice hate are very pleasant scents for us. Since lice move to new hosts primarily through head-to-head contact, they will avoid a head that smells like this shampoo.
- Do not share hats, ski and bike helmets, brushes and hair accessories
- Keep heads away from each other when taking selfies
- Identify the difference between head lice and dandruff; both look like white flakes. If you can draw the white flake down the strand of hair because it sticks, it’s lice; if it easily falls off, it’s dry scalp or dandruff.
If your family does contract head lice, the most effective way to get rid of it is to book an appointment at a lice treatment center that uses a proprietary 3 step process to eliminate the lice and nits. Professionals will perform head checks on family members, answer questions, educate parents and offer a guarantee. The entire appointment generally takes about an hour.