Hillary Chybinski: How To | Prevent and Treat a Case of Head Lice

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To | Prevent and Treat a Case of Head Lice

Tips for Treating and Preventing Head Lice

Do you have children in childcare or elementary school?  Then you have probably gotten the dreaded letter. . .

Dear Parents,

It has come to our attention that a child in your child's classroom has developed a case a head lice. . .

Or something similar to those words. . .

What's your first thought?  - - - "Oh please don't let my child get it"

Followed quickly by,    "What if the neighbors find out?!"

According to the CDC, "the head louse is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood several time a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease."  You can find out more about head lice on the CDC's website.

Head-to-head contact with an already infested person is the most common way to get head lice.  Contrary to popular belief, lice do not fly or hop.  A person (you child) can get lice, from sharing clothing or belongings, however, that is uncommon.

How do we prevent children from getting lice? Specifically OUR children?

Ultimately, your child should avoid hair to hair contact.  That's not necessarily realistic, especially for younger children.  Fairy Tales Hair Care for Children makes a line of products for the removal and prevention of lice.  Also, a small amount of tree tea oil dabbed behind the ears or dropped into regular shampoo can help deter lice.  That's my routine as soon as the letter comes home.

But what if it's too late to prevent it? What if it's your child with lice?  For some reason, we tend to feel responsible.  Like people will think we are unclean.  That's not the case.  You can have the "cleanest" house and your child can go the "best" school. . .and STILL get lice.  Because as we all know, life is rarely "fair".

So what to do when your child does in fact have lice? You can call your pediatrician.  There are a number of prescription as well as over-the-counter treatments.  You and your pediatrician can discuss which ones are right for your family.

The important thing to remember is to follow ALL of the directions for treatment. ESPECIALLY the need for re-treatment in a couple of days.  And by all means, you really need to use that tiny little comb that comes with many treatments.  My heart goes out to you moms of little girls with long thick locks.

As for your household, the CDC recommends that ". . .hats, scarves, pillow cases, bedding, clothing, and towels worn or used by the infested person in the 2-day period just before treatment is started can be machine washed and dried using the hot water and hot air cycles because lice and eggs are killed by exposure for 5 minutes to temperatures greater than 53.5°C (128.3°F)."

Items that are not washable may be dry cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.

So when you get that letter from school. . .don't panic.

A LOT of kids get lice - it is NOT a reflection on you or your housekeeping abilities.  Stay calm with your knowledge of how to treat an infestation and prevent any future infestations.

Have you had a case of lice in your household? What is your best tip(s)?

catch you soon -


  1. volunteering in the inner city has taught me a lot about lice and preventive measures you can take. For girls make sure their hair is braided, if to short just up and away helps limit the hair to hair contact. Use hair spray and gel lice don't seem to like the "dirty" hair. Use Shampoos and conditioners that have coconut oil in them. Their is also preventive lice shampoo and sprays at the drug store, they really do help. They also don't like heat so blow dry your hair.

    If you do end up getting lice rinse your hair with white vinegar it loses the eggs so they are easier to pick out. You also want to smother them with a hair mask that has coconut oil, eucalyptus oil, olive oil, this helps after treating your head with the chemicals.

    Hope that helps

    1. Thank you so much for leaving your tips Aliina!!


  2. With boys, just shave their heads! Ok, well that's what we did when our boys came home a couple of years ago with head lice.

    And now I am itchy....

    1. LOL Jessica - I did the same thing and my head itched the entire time I wrote this post!


  3. I don't have any tips to share, but it's helpful to share this information. It's needed and I hope it removes the stigma associated with lice.