Why Children Keep Catching Head Lice

Are you feeling like you're in a never-ending battle with head lice? Like you can’t get rid of lice for months at a time? Read our article to find out why.

If you're reading this, chances are it feels like you've tried everything, but those persistent critters just won't go away. Don't worry, you're certainly not alone, if that’s any consolation. 

Many parents find themselves in the same frustrating situation, unable to rid their child of lice despite months of trying. But fear not, there's still hope! 

In this article, we'll explore what to do when you can't seem to get rid of lice and provide some practical tips and advice to finally put an end to the cycle of infestation.

What Causes Head Lice Infestations in Children?

So, how and why exactly do children in particular tend to keep ending up with these unwanted guests? 

Well, it's usually through close contact with someone who's already infested. Think hugs, selfies, or playing hairdresser during a sleepover – those are prime opportunities for lice to hitch a ride from one head to another.

Sharing personal items like hats, brushes, or even headphones can also spread lice from one host to another. Head lice will climb onto any item that touches the head and wait for their chance to jump onto a new host.

And let's not forget about the lice hotspots – places where lots of children gather in close quarters, like schools or daycare centres. With all that mingling, it's no wonder lice love to make themselves at home in these places and that they can be very difficult to contain.

So, what's a parent to do? Well, first, take a deep breath – it happens to the best of us. Then, arm yourself with some knowledge about how lice spread and what you can do to prevent your child from getting reinfested.

Why Does My Child Keep Catching Head Lice?

Despite parents’ best efforts, children can still catch head lice for several reasons. Firstly, head lice are highly contagious and easily spread through close contact with anyone who’s already infested. 

This includes activities like hugging, sharing personal items, as well as playing and participating in group activities at school or daycare. 

As every parent knows, trying to get your child to stop playing with others can be nigh on impossible! 

Additionally, children may inadvertently pick up head lice from contaminated objects such as bedding, pillows, or clothing. Lice can survive off the scalp for a short period, allowing them to transfer from one person to another through shared items. 

Furthermore, lice infestations can be almost impossibly difficult to contain if not effectively treated. It just takes one family to skip on proper treatment, and the whole classroom can be infested before you know it. 

Therefore, it's essential to implement thorough lice treatment and prevention strategies to break the cycle of infestation and protect against future occurrences.

Is there anything I can do To Prevent a Reinfestation?

Luckily, the battle against head lice reinfestation is not an impossible one. There are in fact a number of strategies parents can use to help prevent head lice reinfestation.

Educate your kids: Be sure to emphasise the importance of not sharing personal items such as hats, combs, brushes, or hair accessories with others – this should be non–negotiable!

Avoid head-to-head contact: Encourage kids to avoid head-to-head contact during playtime, sleepovers, while playing sport or during any other group activities.

Look after belongings: Teach children to hang their belongings separately and avoid placing them in communal areas where lice can easily transfer.

Check your child: Regularly check your child's scalp for signs of lice or nits, especially after potential exposure to anyone who’s had head lice or nits recently or if there have been any reports of head lice cases from their school or daycare.

Tie hair back: Keep long hair tied back in ponytails or braids to minimise opportunities for lice to transfer to your child’s scalp.

Lice repellent: Use repellent sprays or hair products containing essential oils like tea tree, eucalyptus or peppermint, which may help deter lice.

Headwear protection:  Encourage children to wear hats or scarves in situations where lice exposure is possible, such as when attending crowded events or using public transportation.

Regular washing: Launder bedding, hats, and clothing worn by children in hot water and dry them on high heat to kill any potential lice or nits.

Proper hygiene: Teach proper hygiene practices, such as avoiding shared pillows or sleeping directly on upholstered furniture, to reduce the risk of lice transmission.

Preventative treatments: Consider using preventive treatments like lice repellent shampoos or conditioners regularly, especially during peak lice seasons or outbreaks in the community.

Breaking the Cycle

Head lice are nothing if not persistent, so if it seems like your efforts to control an infestation have so far been in vain, there are several common factors which could be tripping you up.

One common issue is not following treatment directions accurately. Using the wrong product, applying it incorrectly, or not leaving the treatment on for long enough, may not effectively kill all lice or their eggs, allowing some of them to survive and reproduce, and for the cycle to continue. 

Combing for head lice and nits is no one’s idea of fun, but if you’re going to do it, it pays to be thorough. If any lice or nits at all are left behind, the infestation will persist. It's essential to comb through the hair meticulously, section by section, to ensure every last louse and egg is removed.

Another factor is not doing follow-up treatments as indicated. Many head lice treatments require multiple applications to target newly hatched lice that may have survived the initial treatment. Skipping follow-up treatments can leave these lice untreated, allowing the infestation to rebound.

When treating a persistent head lice infestation, it’s a good idea to blitz them from multiple angles. Failure to properly clean and disinfect personal items such as bedding, clothing, and hair accessories can lead to reinfestation. Lice can in fact survive off the scalp for a short period, so it's important to wash and dry these items on high heat to kill any remaining lice or eggs.

To truly get on top of a head lice infestation once and for all, it’s essential to strictly adhere to all treatment instructions, comb thoroughly, and be sure to use follow-up treatments to prevent reinfestation.