Preventing Head Lice
Because children frequently play in close contact with one another and often share personal belongings such as hats or brushes, lice can be very difficult to keep from spreading. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of your child getting head lice or spreading it to others in your family:
Avoid head-to-head contact. The easiest way for lice to spread from one person to another is through direct contact. Your child should avoid activities in which his or her head could come into contact with another child’s. This includes sports and playground activities, sleepovers, and camp. It also extends to simpler gestures such as hugging or leaning in close to talk to one another.
Separate clothing. Teach your children to hang their coats up on separate hooks at school, rather than throwing them in a pile with other kids’ belongings. Although the risk of getting infested by a louse this way is very small, head lice can survive for a day or two after falling off a human host. Separating clothing is a simple step toward prevention that’s easy for kids to remember.
Don’t share clothing or personal items. There are some instances when kids need to understand when not to share. Your children should not be sharing personal belongings such as hats, scarves, hair ribbons, combs, brushes, towels, or other items that may have come into contact with their hair.
Clean to control the spread. Items that have come into contact with a person infested with head lice should be machine washed in hot water (130° F) and dried in the dryer on a high heat setting. Such items include clothing, bed linens, and stuffed animals. Items that cannot be washed can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks. Combs and brushes that have been used by an infested person should be soaked in hot water for 5-10 minutes.