With the county fair over and the new school year approaching it's a great time to review the dreaded subject - lice. We always like to remind parents and caregivers about this topic at the beginning of every school year so that they can help their children remember the dos and don’ts of these pesky critters.
What is Lice?
Head lice are tiny bugs that live on the human scalp, most commonly found on children. They are greyish bugs that are the size of a strawberry seed. They have a lifespan of about 3-4 weeks, with female lice laying eggs every 6-10 days. The lice eggs (called nits) are white, and when pulled on are stuck to the hair shaft, unlike dandruff or dry scalp patches that slide off the hair easily.
How are lice spread?
Lice don’t fly or jump. They crawl from place to place. They are transmitted by sharing hats, scarves, brushes, combs, hair accessories, headphones, pillows, towels, or anything similar that has direct contact with the head.
When should I check my child for lice?
Anyone, child or adult, can be checked at any time. If you’re seeing your child itch their heads, have sores on their scalp, neck, or shoulders or you see nits - definitely check them right away. Checking everyone in your household after large events, like fairs or trips are good times too. Generally, schools will let parents know if there is a large outbreak in the classroom. To check for lice, simply part the hair and look closely at the scalp and hair shaft. Be sure to check behind the ears and in the nap.
What do I do if I find lice?
If you happen to find lice on yourself or your child(ren), first you’ll want to get some at home treatment kits. These can be found at most grocery stores, pharmacies, or retail stores. Grab a few because you’ll want to have them on hand for the next month or two. Treat the individual by following the directions on the box. Be diligent and take your time with this treatment, rushing through the treatment could mean needing to do it several more times! Next, you’ll want to bag up stuffed animals, clothes, sheets, pillows, towels, ect in plastic garbage bags. These need to sit for 7-10 days so any bugs left on them have a chance to expire. After the waiting period, wash all items in warm/hot water. For things that can’t be bagged up, like furniture, there is a spray that can be used to clean those surfaces.
How to prevent getting head lice
Sometimes it’s hard to completely prevent lice from spreading, especially in small children who don’t understand why they can’t share their brushes with their friends. Talking with them early on about not sharing those items is key. Reminding them that we don’t share hats, brushes, or hair accessories like we don’t share cups with our friends - it keeps everyone healthy! Remind them to hang their hats and coats on separate hooks at school and to not share athletic head gear. Did you know that lice actually LIKE clean hair! So, keeping your child squeaky clean isn’t always the best. Also using certain shampoos or essential oils that have tea tree, peppermint, and lavender can help keep these bugs from wanting to make their home on your head.
Per the state of Minnesota Board of Cosmetology, we are not allowed to work on any guest that has lice. There are salons that specialize in removing and treating lice - mainly in the cities. We at Sisters Salon & Day Spa are not one of those salons. If we find lice on a guest, we must stop whatever we are doing in your service immediately and ask that you come back when treatment is completed and there are no nits remaining.
Long story short
All in all, getting head lice is not considered a big deal anymore and really is more time consuming than anything. Years ago, there used to be a perception of kids that had it, so please know that it is not a reflection of any kind on you or your family. The at home treatments work effectively and kids don’t miss school anymore. With the large variety of home remedies and easy prevention steps, lice could potentially never cross your path.
Ps. Sorry if you’re itchy now!