Preventing Head Lice
No parent wants to learn of an outbreak of lice at their child’s school. Lice infestation travels quickly. And even if your child has already been treated for lice, he or she could easily become reinfested through contact with another infested person. This forces you to go through another round of treatment and experience more missed days of school. Below are some tips to help protect your child and control the spread of lice.
Reinfestation — or getting lice again after already being treated for it — is a real concern. No one is immune to head lice. If lice treatment is not followed properly, personal belongings such as hats or brushes are shared, or steps aren’t taken to rid your home of lice, they can come back and your child can get infested again.
You may have also heard that Nix® has a residual effect. This means that some residual or lingering activity of Nix® remains on the hair for up to two weeks, even with regular shampooing. This residual activity allows Nix® to kill lice — including baby lice as they hatch — and protect against lice reinfestation for up to 14 days. Products with longer residual effects tend to be more effective in killing newly hatched lice eggs.1 Other lice treatments that do not have the residual effect that Nix® does often require more than one application to ensure that newly hatched lice eggs are killed. Nix®, on the other hand, kills lice and their eggs usually with a single application
Tips to Keep Lice from Spreading
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 or take a selfie.
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.
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.
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.
1. Mazurek CM, Lee NP. How to manage head lice. West J Med. 2000 May; 172(5): 342–345.