Added/Modified on December 1, 2014
A head lice problem in children is the bane of many parents who struggle to get rid of these wingless parasitic insects who breed on the scalp and thrive by sucking on blood drawn from the scalp. This is a very common problem that is found in children especially in the age from 3-12 years and is more common in girls than boys. Lice are not harmful, however they are contagious to a certain degree and their bites may cause a lot of itchiness, inflammation and even infection on the scalp of kids. So it is important for follow a few simple rules in order to prevent the onset of hair lice in kids.
Lice mainly spreads through head contact and even by sharing of brushes, combs, hats, bed linen and so on that are infested with lice. Head lice is not related to hygiene as the main route of transmission is head to head contact which must be avoided in children. You could also adopt various other preventive measures like braiding long hair and even by making your own lice busting spray concoction which you can keep applying from time to time.
Mixing an essential oil like a few drops of tea tree oil in your kid’s shampoo bottle is another good way of protecting them from head lice. It is important to keep checking your child’s hair from time to time and also to adopt certain methods to avoid head lice. Small precautions can most definitely be adopted as they are relatively inexpensive. Read on to know about a few of these.
1. Teach kids how to avoid head to head contact
The best and the foremost precautionary measure that can significantly help in preventing head lice is to teach your child to avoid extreme physical proximity with friends and buddies. It is important to know that lice cannot jump, hop or fly and therefore the only possible way of contracting them would be by head contact with an infected child. Kids keep whispering, hugging and leaning to tell secrets. They mostly have their heads together in the classrooms and in the buses. Ask the children to avoid head to head contact with other children while playing in the playground or at home. Kids being kids will not follow such a rule happily, but they will pay heed to it by reducing physical proximity which can be of some help.
2. Keep the clothing of your child separate
It is important not to mix your child’s clothing with other clothing. Head lice have a tendency to survive for a couple of days when it is away from a human host. An infected person usually has nits and lice on clothes such as headgear like hats, earmuffs, scarves and jackets. Keeping clothes together with those that belong to an infected person simply increase the chances of getting head lice. Hence, it is important that you avoid piling jackets together in a public area as it gives the lice ample opportunity to relocate to a new human host. Hence, educate your child about such incidents and ask him to refrain from putting his jackets in community piles. Tell your child to use his or her cubby for keeping hats and scarves instead of hanging them up with other kids’ scarves.
3. Teach your kid not to share all things
It is important to teach your children that there are some things that should not be shared amongst the best of friends for each other’s safety against head lice. Children have a strong tendency to try each other’s combs and brushes. Tell them that it is unhygienic to use other people’s combs and brushes. The same should apply to gear that is close to your head like earmuffs, scarves and hats. Kids think that it is safe to share with best friends, so you need to reinforce that lice can attack anyone and your best friend could be one of them. This is a good way to prevent head lice, but it is definitely not foolproof as children might continue to ‘share’ unintentionally without realizing it.
4. Take precautions when sending kids for sleepovers and camping trips
Another major causes for getting head lice are sleepovers and camping trips as both involve big time bonding and physical contact between kids. Firstly, make sure that you teach your child to avoid head to head contact as much as possible. Secondly, make sure that your child carries his or her own pillow, bedding and sleeping bag. Lice can live without the human host for three days and they are normally found clinging on to bedding and pillow of an infected child. Sharing pillows offers a good opportunity for lice to travel to an uninfected child. When your child comes back from a camping trip of sleepover, make sure that you wash the bedding and disinfect. By doing this, you would get rid of any stray louse that might have climbed aboard.
5. Create your own lice busting spray
Another good way to make sure that your kid is safe from the onslaught of head lice would be to create your very own lice busting spray. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that fights head lice. For making your spray, buy a spray bottle and add ten drops of tea tree oil with two ounces of water. Hence the proportion of tea tree oil to water should be 8 drops: 2 ounces. Tea tree oil can easily be found in any pharmacy. Use this spray on a regular basis on your child’s head. You can also spray on other headgear like hats and outerwear like jackets, bedding, car upholstery and furniture. Head lice do not respond well to tea tree oil and get offended by it, hence it is a great preventive measure. You can also add in a few drops of lemongrass, cinnamon oil or lavender oil to make the spray more fragrant. Head lice are extremely averse to tea tree oil, and it makes an excellent preventative.
6. Long hair should be tightly braided
Girls are at a higher risk of getting head lice than boys because of the length of their hair. If your daughter has long hair, then tie them up in tight long braids to reduce the risk of the hair coming into contact with any infected person’s hair. Girls also have a tendency to be close to one another and their games involve a lot of whispering and proximity and therefore long hair are more at risk when in contact with hair that are infested with lice. Long hair are also difficult to treat once infested with head lice. It is important to tie long hair into braids while going to school or any other place where there are a large number of children to avoid the problem of head lice. This is only an additional precaution and is not completely foolproof.
7. Make a concoction of tea tree oil and shampoo
Another way of preventing head lice in your child’s hair is to prepare a homemade shampoo concoction that can provide protection against the onset of head lice. For this, take shampoo that your child uses and read the shampoo label for the quantity of shampoo it contains. Proportionately mix in 3-5 drops of tea tree oil for one ounce of shampoo. Mix the concoction well and make sure that you shake the bottle each time before use. This anti-lice shampoo should be used on a daily basis for a good protection against head lice. Tea tree oil is a natural oil that also works as an insecticide as lice are averse to tea tree oil and it repels them. You can also use eucalyptus oil in place of tea tree oil, however, it should not be used for kids below the age of five years. Other natural oils that repel head lice are peppermint, rosemary and lavender.
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