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7 Easy Steps to Prevent Head Lice

Updated on December 31, 2016

If your children have ever had these little critters on their head, you probobly know what an absolute pain it can be to get rid of them. The nonstop drying, vacuuming, and not to mention the back pain that seems to go hand in hand with picking out all those little nits. Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take to help prevent your child's head from becoming infested with lice.

1. Pull Long Hair Back

Contrary to what some believe, lice do not jump from one head to another. Instead, lice crawl from one head to another head or an item that has come in contact with the head. If a child has long hair, it often falls over when they bend over and can easily come in contact with another child's head. Pulling their hair back can prevent this from happening. Some great ideas are to pull it back in a ponytail, the hair can be cut shorter, or you can braid the hair. After you pull the hair back, you can put hairspray in their hair for added protection.

2. Hair Spray or Gel

Lice move by crawling up the hair shaft. In order to do that, they have to be able to cling onto the hair. Using gel, hairspray, or other hair products can make the hair stiff, preventing lice from being able to crawl on the hair.

3. Greasy Hair

Using oil, vaseline, or something equally greasy can almost guarantee that your child will not come home with lice. If hair is greasy, lice will have a difficult time clinging to the shaft of the hair and they will not able to crawl up the hair. This is similar to when hairspray and gel are used. In addition to that, lice typically enjoy clean hair, not greasy or dirty hair. The only downside to this is that it can make your child's hair look greasy. Certain hairstyles, such as a nice French braid, can help disguise greasiness so it will be less obvious.

4. Hair Dye

This works for both adults and children. Because of the chemicals that dye puts on the hair, lice will not like it as much as they will like hair that is all natural. As you can see, this is the same idea as those that are previously listed. Lice prefer an environment that is clean and chemical-free. By taking away either of those things, you are helping prevent head lice.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Evidence has suggested that lice do not like the smell of tea tree oil. While this will not kill the lice, adding a drop or two to your shampoo bottle may be enough to repel lice. (This also works wonders against dandruff.) To do this, get a small bottle and fill it up with shampoo. Then, simply add a drop or two of tea tree oil. Test a small amount on the scalp and wait a day to ensure that this does not cause irritation. Certain individual's skin may be irritated by tea tree oil, so it is important to watch your child for signs of irritation. If no signs of irritation are visible, then you can add another drop or two to the bottle of shampoo if desired.

6. Don't Share Personal Items

Remind your children not to share personal items with other children. Take the time to talk to them about lice, and how a friend or classmate may not even know that they have it. Make sure to specify items that may come in contact with another child's head, such as hats, coats, scarves, hair brushes, hair accessories, etc.

Children are quick to defend their friends. During this conversation, it should be made clear that you are not trying to be mean, and that you like their friends, but they may have lice and not know it. Or they may accidentally share something with another child that has lice. If a child thinks you are being mean, they are less likely to listen to you, and may use their friend's brush or hat, thinking that you are simply being mean.

7. Take Extra Precautions at Sleepovers

Sleepovers are heaven for lice. With these extra precautions, you can be sure that your child is much less likely to experience a lice infestation.

  • If it's at your house, make sure that the children sleep in a star shape, with their feet in the middle and their heads going outwards instead of with all of their heads in the middle. This will ensure that five heads are not all touching at once.
  • Ensure that each child has their own pillow and blanket. It's a great idea to have them bring their own from home, stating that you simply don't have enough for all of the children. While many parents will send these with their child anyway, some may not. If a child doesn't have their own, however, it's not a big deal. You can quickly throw them in the dryer the next day, just to be cautious.
  • Put away your child's hair accessories and hair brush or comb before everyone gets there. When little girls play dress up, they are quick to simply use their friend's stuff. Even after the dress up stage has passed, it's still pretty common. If you take a couple extra minutes to put away hair brushes and accessories, this won't be an issue.
  • Don't be too embarrassed to look at a child's hair. It can be embarrassing for both your child and their friend for you to look through a child's hair if they are scratching their head. A more subtle way to do this is to offer to braid their hair, or pull their hair back. If you do find lice in a child's hair, a discreet phone call can be made to the child's parents. Remember, it is not the child's fault they have lice. Calling their parents or talking so the other children can hear may embarrass them.
  • Follow the other precautions listed above (such as using hairspray), for both sleepovers at your house and away from home to help prevent head lice from infesting your child's head.

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      Scarlet 3 months ago

      I hate head lice. Thanks for these helpful tips on helping me and others prevent the pesky creatures.

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      Bridgit 9 months ago

      I wish. Knew all these tips when I had lice