Chilly winter weather means that more children are likely to wear hats, scarves, and coats. Unfortunately, these essential cold-weather items also provide a means for head lice to spread from one child to another. Lice must have a surface to cling to, as they're only capable of crawling.
These items are often stored in close proximity or shared by multiple children, making it easy for lice to essentially crawl from child to child. If your child has a case of head lice, follow these tips to get it under control.
1. Treat the Lice with an Insecticide
It isn't absolutely necessary to treat head lice with an insecticide, but many parents find that it shortens the length of the infestation. Most over-the-counter insecticides only kill the adult lice and leave the eggs behind; you'll have to remove the eggs using a lice comb. Most insecticides require multiple applications for optimal effectiveness.
There are prescription products available that kill both the eggs and the adult lice. These products can also be costly and smelly. If you want to go this route, make an appointment with your child's pediatric physician.
Some parents want to forgo using chemicals to kill the lice. Another option is to slather the head with a thick substance, like coconut oil, lotion, or Vaseline, and leave it on for a few minutes to smother the lice. This may help kill some adult lice, but it generally isn't as effective as an actual insecticide.
2. Physically Remove the Lice and Nits
Physical remove of head lice and nits is an effective way to combat the infestation. Ideally, you should combine the physical removal of the lice and nits with some type of insecticide. After using the insecticide, use a lice comb to remove any remaining adult lice and nits that remain in the hair. Physically remove lice and nits every day for two to three weeks to completely eliminate the lice.
3. Clean Household Items That Might Harbor Lice
Lice can't survive more than a day or so without a human scalp, but you should wash household items where the lice may live to be on the safe side. Wash your child's winter garb, bedding, stuffed animals, and pillows and dry them in the dryer.
If you can't safely wash any of these items, seal them in a plastic bag for a couple weeks to suffocate the lice. Make sure that you wash your child's combs, brushes, and hair accessories in hot, soapy water to remove any lingering lice. If your child's room has carpet, give it a thorough vacuuming.