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The 411 on Head Lice

4 Nov 2014 – 11:36 AM EST

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As a teacher I have seen my fair share of lice infested heads and I am here to say what teachers have been wanting to say all along. Here is the definitive and only way to clear up head lice for you child. Follow these steps painstakingly. There is no shortcut. There is no easy fix. You will do this or you will have reoccurences of head lice and so will our classrooms. Are you scratching your head yet? You will be. It’s normal to begin itching when talking about lice.

Go To The Pharmacy

You cannot kill a louse with regular shampoo or tea tree oil or any number of things the internet may suggest. The pharmacist will provide you with the lice shampoo and direction needed to get rid of the live lice. This shampoo will Not remove the eggs. This is where so many parents get it wrong. They simply shampoo the hair and call it a day. Read on to see why this is not a sufficient fix.

When the Live Lice are Gone You MUST Pic the Nits Out One by One

Nits can be tiny whitish or brownish (depending on the color of the child’s hair) specks. They cannot be flicked away like a piece of dandruff. You must use your fingernails to pull each one away from the hair shaft. If the weather cooperates it is best to do this outside so you be sure the nits are disposed of properly. This will take a long time, so settle in and get ready to search every section of your child’s head for nits. Pull them out one by one and when you think they are all gone, look again.

Shampoo, Twice if Needed

It won’t hurt to give it a second go. This will ensure any live louse are toast. If you really want to know what they look like you can click here. Not pretty, right? You are going to want these things gone. It might even make you feel better to give the hair one more good wash. Check with your pharmacist to make sure your lice shampoo is suitable and safe for two washes.

Never Shave a Child’s Head

This is a cruel and useless attempt to remove lice. The nits (eggs) prefer the spots closest to the head. The will cluster around the crown or behind the ears and live on very little hair. You are better off to complete these steps as suggested rather than put your child through a head shaving. I have seen a number of little girls go from long locks one day to a shaved head the next and their embarrassment is not worth this false cure.

Wash All Bedding, Hats and Stuffed Toys in Very Hot Water

Repeat if necessary. Lice can live in things other than hair for some time. You must strip the sheets and clothing the child was wearing and wash it in extremely hot water. Stuffed toys are harder to wash but alternatively they can be placed inside bags in the freezer for a number of days to ensure any living lice will die. If it’s winter throw those toys in a garbage bag and sit them outside for a few days. Extreme heat or extreme cold will ensure the clothing and toys are lice free.

No one wants to have to deal with head lice but if your turn should come be sure to follow the rules laid out here to ensure you clean up this issue once and all.