Do you dread the first note of the new school year letting you know that someone in your child’s class has head lice? We asked our parents for their top tips on preventing head lice when the kids go back to school.
#1. Educate Your Child and Yourself!
- It is a common misconception that Head Lice can jump, fly or hop, they can’t! They have no wings and six legs so can only crawl.
- Nits (lice eggs) are held in place on the hair shaft with a glue like substance and cannot fall off onto another persons head.
- They can only live on the hair shaft / warm scalp and are ONLY transferred, by head to head contact. When hair comes into contact with already infected hair they simply crawl from one hair strand to the next regardless of who’s head they are on.
- It does not matter what hair colour / type you have or how clean your hair is. Lice just want warmth.
- You cannot get or give your pets lice!
So when your child starts nursery or school, explain to them that is it important to try not to touch heads with other children and never to share hairbrushes, hats, combs etc.
#2. Always Tie Up Long Hair
Tying up long hair reduces the area that can come into contact with infected hair. Braids or a bun is best but a ponytail is good too.
“I never understand when the notes come home and some of the kids go into school with their hair down. Have three girls and had years of the eldest one catching them off the girl sitting beside her who never got her hair treated.” – Sharon
“Hair up always helps” – Margaret
“My mum always told us keep your hair tied up in school and I’ve done it with my girls and so far they haven’t gotten them… but if you do you can get so many shampoos now that don’t smell and the combs are fab you can big ones in boots that are brill.” – Caron
You may also find useful information on – Tips from Parents for Getting Rid of Head Lice
#3. Peek Once a Week
Familarise yourself with what to look out for; itchy head, small rash behind the ears or on the neck, white/caramel coloured flecks in the hair, different from dry scalp, they will not move easily or a louse crawling through the hair.
- Hair checking is best done at least once a week after washing hair and while it is still damp.
- Invest in a Head Lice Comb and use it brush through damp hair lifting strands up to look underneath.
- If you think your child may have head lice, add conditioner to wet hair and comb through with the nit comb, wiping it every few brushes on a paper towel. If you see little brown / black dots it could indicate the presence of head lice.
- Common hot spots are behind the ears, on the crown of your head and at the nape of the neck.
- Strong Sunlight or a good lamp are best for spotting nits / lice.
#4. Tea Tree
Some parents recommend dabbing a bit of tea tree oil behind the ears and at the back of the neck or adding a couple of drops to water in a spritz bottle and spraying a little on before going to school or nursery. You could also add a couple of drops to your regular shampoo.
Tea Tree can be drying so do use only as directed on the bottle.
“My 2 girls have long hair and I always dab a bit of tea tree on them before school” – Catherine
“I always use Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner.” – Martina
“Same here tea tree shampoo is the way to go!” – Karin
Tea tree conditioner very good” – Maryteresa
“I put a couple of drops of tea tree oil on the hair brush and tie up littlest ones hair.” – Mandie
“Tea tree oil rubbed at back of ears and neck good deterrent. Also was told lately that mayonnaise rubbed onto hair is the preferred treatment now.” – Siobhan
“After having lice in my home for the first time ever last year, I honestly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! I kept my kids out of school until I was 100% sure they were clear but when they went back I was tempted to put shower caps on them such was the stress I had been through (and them) even our babysitter and grandparents got them!! Tea tree oil is a wonder product to have in your house and a couple of drops behind the ear works great. Also tie the hair up and if long enough wrap into a bun. I also use tea tree shampoo. ” – Lynda
“The head lice slip off the tea tree. Think it’s the best solution – coming from a parent and a Montessori teacher that has had to treat her own hair too!!! Fine tooth comb after treating onto white paper and you will see them fall off.” – Hilda
#5. Hair Spray and Aloe Vera / Jojoba
Or using an Aloe Vera / Jojoba based shampoo and conditioner.
“My best advice is check every week regardless and comb, comb and then comb. A bit of hairspray seems to help too.” – Anna
“Use shampoo with aloe vera and jojoba – head lice hate the smell (you don’t smell it but the lice do!). If the lice do get in to the hair, smother the scalp with aloe vera gel and suffocate the lice! We’ve been using this shampoo for over 2 years and none of the kids (we have 3) have been affected by head lice even though there have been a few outbreaks in school and summer camps. Wouldn’t be without the aloe!!” – Marian
- Treat it as soon as you can and check hair regularly for signs of an infestation.
- Do not treat hair using off the shelf products unless you are sure your child has Head Lice as this will reduce their effectiveness when a real outbreak occurs.
- Wash all bed linen, hats etc and disinfect all haircare items after treatment.
Do you have a Head Lice Prevention tip that has worked well? Please share it in the comments box below.