Head Lice Prevention: Protecting Kids at School
While there isn’t a specific ‘season’ for head lice, the back-to-school period at the beginning of the school year and after each school holiday period often tends to see a spike in cases.
Prevent Your Kids from Head Lice
The start of each school year or term can mean the beginning of another fight between the parasitic lice, the kids they infest, and their parents who can end up spending a lot of time, energy and expense trying to keep their children lice-free.
While these blood-sucking parasites may be tiny, they can certainly cause a disproportionate amount of worry for parents whenever an infestation breaks out. It’s a good idea to remember that head lice are not known to spread any diseases and the most significant health risk they pose is itching. So, there’s no need to panic if your child’s school reports an outbreak or you discover lice on your child.
What are Head Lice?
Head lice are tiny blood-sucking parasites around the size of a sesame seed. Head lice live exclusively in the hair on human heads. They feed on blood from the scalp several times per day and, although their bites may cause itching and mild irritation, they do not spread any diseases. They do not pose any serious health risk and are more of a nuisance.
The head lice life cycle lasts for around a month. They can appear differently at the various stages of their life cycle. Freshly hatched, juvenile lice are often a white to grey colour while mature lice are usually brown. Head lice eggs are known as nits which are white and oval shaped. Adult lice lay eggs which are cemented to the base of individual hairs near the scalp and hatch in around a week.
Preventing Head Lice Spread
Head lice move by crawling. They cannot jump, fly or swim. So, the primary means of transmission from one person to another is by direct head-to-head or hair-to-hair contact. It’s actually somewhat more difficult than many people would imagine transferring lice from one host to another.
Lice will not crawl around the classroom to transfer from one child to another, and they can’t live for long away from a host’s head. So, it’s not necessary to worry about spraying and treating furniture or other objects around the home or classroom while dealing with a lice infestation.
In order to prevent head lice from spreading, it’s a good idea to teach children to avoid sharing items like hats, hairbrushes and hair accessories that touch the head. Bike helmets, scarves and even headphones can all provide good places for lice to transfer from one host to another.
What to do if Your Child's School Reports an Infestation
The first thing to do after your child’s school reports a lice infestation is to thoroughly inspect your child’s hair to figure out whether they’ve been affected.
It’s a good idea to also examine all clothing that your child has worn for the past several days and other household items (pillowcases, bedding, etc.) that your child has come in contact with for any signs of lice or eggs. Wash all clothing, bedding and sheets that have been in contact with any affected family members in hot water over 55°C. Hairbrushes, combs and other hair accessories should be soaked in hot water over 55°C for at least ten minutes.
Vacuum carpet and furniture but avoid using lice-killing sprays which can contain harmful chemicals.
Treating a Head Lice Infestation
When treating a head lice infestation, choose an effective treatment option such as the strong and effective KP24 Medicated Lotion and Medicated Foam, or the fast and effective KP24 Rapid.
Be sure to always read and follow the directions for use.
After using a lice treatment product as directed, it’s a good idea to comb through wet hair thoroughly with a fine metal tooth comb in order to remove dead lice, eggs and casings. If required, re-apply the treatment after 7-10 days, or as directed on the product packaging.
Continue to check or comb through wet hair daily for at least 2-3 weeks after the initial treatment to be sure all dead lice and eggs are gone and to prevent reinfestation.
Should You Treat the Rest of the Family?
It is common for head lice to spread at home and affect siblings, parents and any other close contacts.
It’s a good idea to avoid using strong medicated treatments on anyone who does not actually have head lice, so be sure to carefully inspect all family members daily for at least three weeks following the initial infestation and treatment. Begin treatment immediately on anyone affected.
Preventative products such as KP24 Head Lice Defence Spray can be used on all family members as a daily, pesticide-free defence against head lice infestation and reinfestation.
KP24 Head Lice Defence Spray works to deter head lice by emitting a natural oil blend fragrance formulation of eucalyptus, orange, cinnamon, tea tree and lavender oils. The spray can be used daily and applied every eight hours.
What Not to Do for Head Lice
You may read online or hear by word of mouth about treatment of head lice and nits using an array of non-pesticidal products including mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, olive oil and vegetable oil. Such products may slow the movement of lice and make them easier to remove, however these substances do not kill the lice and may not be as effective as specifically formulated head lice treatments.
Attempting to treat head lice infestations with mechanical removal via wet combing is not as effective as mechanical removal combined with a lice treatment.
KP24’s Medicated range provides fast and effective treatment and is suitable for the treatment of more severe cases of head lice.
The KP24 Rapid range is pesticide-free and works in just 10-15 minutes to effectively kill lice and their eggs.
It is best to follow up initial treatment with a re-treatment seven days later to ensure all the lice and eggs are dead, and then follow up with KP24 Lice Egg Remover Solution.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use.