When people—especially kids—come into close contact or share belongings, lice can easily pass from one person to another. This is true even if you teach children good hygiene and practice it yourself. But by taking some precautions, you may be able to prevent your child from getting or spreading lice.
When your child’s school reports a head lice infestation, you can also:
Check household items that are more likely to get infested with lice and their eggs, such as towels, bedding, and rugs.
Be sure your child knows the importance of not sharing any items that touch the head or ears.
Explain to your child what lice is and that they should avoid touching heads with other children until the school has contained the problem.
Space It Out
Shared spaces as well as shared belongings can be breeding grounds for lice. Closets, lockers, drawers, and common clothes hooks can create an easy opportunity for lice to pass from one person’s things to another’s.
Ask your child to keep their belongings—especially hats, coats, scarves, and other clothing—out of common areas. For safety’s sake, adults should take similar precautions.
Don’t Go Head-to-Head
When kids play, they may naturally place their heads close together. (Think about when they pal around with their arms around each other’s shoulders.) But if your child’s friend has head lice, your young one may come home with it.
Ask your child to avoid games and activities that lead to head-to-head contact with classmates and other friends. Adults—especially those who work with children—would be wise to follow the same principle.
The following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control the spread of head lice:
Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
Do not share combs, brushes, or towels.
Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle.
Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Schools may at times report a head lice infestation so that parents can take preventive measures with their families. If this happens, take these actions as soon as possible:
Look in your child’s hair for small white nits, the eggs of lice.
Inspect your child’s clothes—particularly hats, shirts, scarves, and coats—that have been worn during the past 48 hours, looking for lice and eggs
Teach and Practice Good Habits
To reduce the chance of you or your child contracting a case of head lice, start by not sharing items that touch the head. Though it may be tempting to share personal belongings (especially for kids), doing so can lead to the spread of head lice.
combs and brushes
hair clips and accessories
hats and bike helmets
scarves and coats
towels headsets and earbuds
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