Okay, so you may be wondering why I bring this topic up when we are a children’s character company. When Jennifer and I decided to blog again, we felt it necessary to make our topics much more than children’s party ideas because we also happen to be two working moms running a successful small children’s company. And as mothers, we do have a wealth of information to share with everyone because we’ve been there. For me personally, being both a mom and a business owner is such an amazing opportunity, and it has taught me so much that it’s important for me to share bits and pieces of what I have learned along the way.
With the start of the school year, it’s that time of the year when we begin seeing lice outbreaks in the school because children have come back from summer camps.
This is why September has become Head Lice Awareness Month! As a parent, I have had my fair share of dealing with this issue and let me tell you that it is no fun at all. If you suspect that your child has lice or they have indeed been sent home from school with it, you need to be aggressive and proactive about this because if you don’t, you will not get rid of it. My advice is to do your research because there is a ton of information out there.
For those of you unfamiliar with lice, the head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. Lice (the plural of louse) are a very common problem, especially for kids. They’re contagious, annoying, and often times difficult to get rid of. But while they’re frustrating to deal with, lice aren’t dangerous; they don’t spread disease, although their bites can make a child’s scalp itchy and irritated, and scratching can lead to infection. You really need to treat your children immediately because they will spread quickly and go from person to person.
Signs of Head Lice:
Although they’re very small, lice can be seen by the naked eye. Here are things to look for:
Lice eggs (called nits). These look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. Lice lay nits on hair shafts close to the scalp, where the temperature is perfect for keeping warm until they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, only they can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.
Unless the infestation is heavy, it’s more common to see nits in a child’s hair than it is to see live lice crawling on the scalp. Lice eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they’re laid. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear and stays firmly attached to the hair shaft. This is when it’s easiest to spot them, as the hair is growing longer and the egg shell is moving away from the scalp.
Adult lice and nymphs (baby lice). The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller and become adult lice about 1 to 2 weeks after they hatch. Most lice feed on blood several times a day, but they can survive up to 2 days off the scalp.
Scratching. With lice bites come itching and scratching. This is actually due to a reaction to the saliva of lice. However, the itching may not always start right away — that depends on how sensitive a child’s skin is to the lice. It can sometimes take weeks for kids with lice to start scratching. They may complain, though, of things moving around on or tickling their heads.
You have a decision to make if your child has lice. You can either take her to a lice removal salon or deal with it yourself. I highly recommend taking them to the professionals because they are thorough and so worth it!!!! They also tend to use non toxic treatments which I prefer. If your child has a lot of hair, I definitely recommend the professionals because nit removal is very time consuming and tedious.
Treatments: If dealing with lice on your own, there are different treatments on the market. One of the toxic treatments is Rid and a non toxic brand is is Lice Be Gone. You can also use other home remedies like wrapping the hair in shower cap for 24 hours with a non toxic solution on it.. I have used it all. The toxic without a doubt will kill the live lice and you will visually see them fall off in the sink, but you have to be real careful with using this on your child. No matter what you decide to use, the real key is going through your child’s hair on a daily basis! For me, the best place of treating my kids was outside in the natural sun light. I would go through their hair at least twice a day.
You really need to talk with your child about this process because it’s no fun. They do need to be able to sit for a substantial amount of time while you do this. After treating them I would blow dry their hair because I feel that the heat helps finish the lice off. The hair drying will also part your child’s hair giving you a better visual of their scalp. While outside, part the hair in small sections. They key is small sections. You literally have to take small strands in your hands. These blood suckers are tiny and quick. Once you find them pull them out immediately. This needs to be done daily!!!!
In addition to live lice you also have to deal with the eggs! This the glue-like dot you find on the shaft. As you run your fingers down a piece of hair, you can easily feel it. Pull them out!!!!! If not, they will hatch in about 7-13 days and the whole mess will start all over again.
Clean Bedding & Clothing:
Make sure you throw your kids clothes in the wash. I also recommend cleaning the bedding. For blankets and pillows, you can put on high heat in the dryer for at least 20 minutes. You can bag decorative pillows. You want to bag them for a certain period of time though in case they lay eggs. Live lice can only survive up to a few days without a human host to feed on.
Advice for Mom: Pour yourself a drink and just set your mind to doing this. If a classmate is also sent home, invite mom and child over and you can go through the process together.
How to prevent acquiring lice:
1. Contain your hair. Those with long hair should where their hair in a braid or bun. This will lesson the chance your hair will come in contact with someone’s hair that has lice. 99% of lice is spread through direct head to head contact.
2. Do not share brushes, hats or hair accessories. Although less common, lice can be transmitted through sharing head wear and accessories.
3. Limit sleepovers or playdates during this time.
4. Follow-up. This is not a treat once type of deal. You have to be following up on this to make sure that it finished. The other concern that you will have are the parents who are not doing their due diligence . If their child keeps coming back to school with it, chances are your son or daughter can be reinfected.