Defeating Head Lice. It Can Be Done.

A young woman rubs her neck as she talks to a nurse
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The day has come. You get a call from school saying your child has… lice. And now you’re in pest control mode. But it’s important to know that a deep house cleaning won’t eradicate those little buggers any more than at-home scalp treatments.

Lice crawl – not hop or fly and prefer to stay on human heads. Because they can’t survive more than 24 hours away from (deep breath) blood, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy steam cleaning every square inch of your home.

Following medication instructions, along with regular comb-outs every 2-3 days after treatment should do the trick. That said, you can take a few basic housekeeping precautions just in case your new house guests, uh we mean pests, stubbornly won’t leave.

  • Wash your little one’s clothing, bed linens and other items they used during the 2 days before treatment started.
  • For items that can’t be washed or replaced (like stuffed animals), seal them in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
  • Soak combs, brushes, and hair accessories in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Finally, vacuum carpet, furniture and other areas your little one frequently occupies.

Children with head lice need to stay home from school until the appropriate treatment has been completed. Don’t worry about cleaning or quarantining your pets. Dogs, cats, and other pets can’t catch or transmit head lice. And although they are a nuisance, lice have not been shown to spread disease.

Remember that getting lice is not a sign of poor hygiene. The best way to prevent an infestation in the first place is to remind little ones not to share hats, brushes and other personal items. Even direct head-to-head contact from hugging can spread lice. So, it may be helpful to show the love with a fist bump instead. It’s also best to keep a lookout for children displaying behaviors and symptoms, like constant head itching and scratching, as well as small red spots on the scalp.

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