Lice Patrol!

Lice Patrol!

Ugh!  What a nightmare!  The school called and your child has lice!  What to do?  What to do?  First of all, don’t panic…   Yes, Lice are a real pain in the…head but they are manageable.  And don’t be embarrassed either.  Having lice doesn’t mean your child is dirty.  In fact, lice prefer clean hair as it is easier to grab onto with their sticky little feet.  Here is a step by step tutorial on how to check for and get rid of lice….

The main sign your child has lice is that he/she is scratching their head a lot, especially around the back of the head and ears.  Sometimes your child may complain of a tickling feeling or the sensation of something moving…Lice bite and suck minute amounts of blood from the scalp, much less than a mosquito but just as aggravating!  They are more active in the dark, which can disturb your child’s sleep.  They can live up to 30 days and can lay eight eggs a day!  It is very important to catch them as soon as possible for easier removal.  You may want to do periodical checks of your child’s head even if they don’t show symptoms.

Lice are very small and hard to see sometimes unless they are really active and you catch them moving.   After wetting the hair, pour on lots of conditioner to make the hair slick, stand under a really strong light (which they will try to avoid) and use a magnifying glass or reading glasses if you have them. Part the hair in several different places and check the scalp, behind the ears and the nape of the neck.  There may be little sores or a rash to indicate irritation.   Look for movement in the hair more than the lice itself as they are very hard to see, being the size of a sesame seed.   They move very quickly.  Also look for lice eggs (nits).  They are light colored sacs near the scalp and are very sticky.  Sometimes it’s easier to feel them.  They feel like a grain of sand.  Know the difference between a nit and dandruff or dry scalp or product build up.  Usually all of those things can be shaken off the hair where as nits stick like glue. Nits hatch in the warmth of the scalp so if you see nits further down the shaft of hair, they have probably already hatched.  After hatching, the sac stays attached but falls further and further down .  If you don’t see any right at the scalp then your child is probably no longer infested.  A lice or flea comb is very handy if you can’t see anything after an exam.  Section the hair and comb from the root to ends.  If there are lice in there, they should come out on the comb.  Shaking the comb out into a bowl after every swipe can help you identify them better.  A regular comb won’t work as the teeth are too far apart.

Once you confirm that your child has lice it is important that you get rid of them immediately!  Do NOT send them to school with lice as they can easily spread and cause a school wide infestation.  Also, don’t take your child to a salon hoping they will get rid if them.  Most salons, unless it is a salon that specializes in lice removal, will escort you out the door if they see lice in your hair!  If you don’t want to deal with it yourself, find out where the nearest lice removal salon is to you.  Unbelievably, (knock on wood) I have never seen a case of lice in my chair in my 20 years in the business!  My kids never got it either!  I have a granddaughter starting kindergarten this year….

There are several methods to getting rid of lice.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an over the counter lice removal kit used as directed and again 9 days later to catch any recently hatched eggs.  There are “all natural” remedies aplenty out there including mayonnaise, baby oil, olive oil and petroleum.  I don’t believe any of these methods are scientifically tested.  It would be a good idea to treat everyone in the family if you discover your child is infected.  Also all bedding, pillows, stuffed animals brushes, combs, hair accessories…anything the infested child has come in contact with can be infested.  Pillows and stuffed animals or anything you don’t want to wash can be put in the dryer for 20 minutes to kill any lice.

Contrary to popular belief, lice don’t hop or fly.  It generally takes head to head contact or contact with hair paraphernalia to spread.  Teach your child not to use or share hair brushes or accessories.

Good luck and have a Sparkly school year!