One of the most common human parasitic infestations around, head lice affect an estimated 6-12 million Americans annually, most of them children.
If your kids are at risk, here’s something you should know: Catching lice early is vital to helping stop the spread of these itchy pests.
What To Do
- Since it can take 4 to 6 weeks for symptoms such as itching to show up, it’s a good idea to make weekly lice checks a habit at home to stop an infestation before it gets out of control.
- Don’t share items that touch the head. Teach children to keep their hats, helmets, brushes, headbands, scarves and other items to themselves.
- When possible, have children wear long hair pulled back.
- Catch it early. If you notice your child scratching his head, do a thorough check.
- Act quickly. If you are notified of an outbreak, immediately check your child’s hair, searching for nits close to the scalp or sores from scratching at the nape of the neck or behind the ears. Check all family members using a nit comb. Apply a 50/50 solution of conditioner and water to the hair to make combing easier. Work under bright light and watch for movement. Examine the comb after each stroke.
- Don’t worry and don’t blame the child. Even if your kid does bring home lice, it’s not the end of the world. There are affordable pesticide-free over-the-counter products that can help you treat the problem without having to spend a lot of time or money on going to a clinic.
Here’s How To Handle The Problem
Treat anyone who’s infested. There are more options than ever before for treating head lice, however not all products work the same. With lice growing increasingly resistant to traditional over-the-counter pesticides, look for a pesticide-free treatment that’s clinically proven effective against super lice and eggs. If a product doesn’t specifically say it “kills” lice and eggs, it won’t. Some products are designed only to make removal combing of lice easier.