How to Prevent Head Lice for Back to School


Prevent Head LiceA common problem in countless American schools, head lice spreads easily among young children. To reduce your child’s risk, consider the following tips.

Understand your adversary. The first step to prevention is knowing how lice spread in the first place. In most cases, transmission occurs due to head-to-head contact. In some instances, however, a child can contract lice through secondary means, in which he or she contacts an item infected by a carrier. This could be a hat, helmet, brush, scarf or hair accessory.

Educate your child. Even though they don’t always listen, it’s important to teach your children proper conduct, which can reduce the risk of transmission. Tell them to keep their hands to themselves and to avoid touching their heads against the hair of another person. You should also tell your child not to share hats, brushes and other items which may promote transmission.

Employ practical safeguards. Since children are young and inexperienced, it’s not always practical to expect them to listen to even the wisest advice. In turn, it’s a good idea to take a few steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission. These include:

• Keep stray hairs in place, using gel or hairspray.
• Restrain long hair in buns, braids or ponytails.
• Add a tiny amount of tea tree oil to shampoo.
• Inspect your child’s hair frequently to catch an outbreak in its infancy.

The Importance of Early Detection

Many times, it’s simply not possible to stop a lice outbreak. That said, you can keep lice from spreading at school and at home by closely monitoring your child. Watch for scratching, which could indicate the presence of lice. You should also check your child’s scalp at least once every 14 days. Try running a fine-toothed comb through his or her hair during bath time. You should also wipe wet hair using a paper towel, and then inspect the paper for brownish-colored eggs.

If your child does contract lice, there is no need to panic. You can find treatments at your local drug store. If necessary, you can also hire a service to eliminate lice from your home. It’s also important to remember that lice can happen to anyone, regardless of personal hygiene or household income. It’s not your child’s fault, so try not to make him or her feel bad. Simply take the necessary steps to solve this all-too common problem.

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Written by Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Dr. Kenkare is a highly experienced clinician with a background in family medicine. As a founding member of PhysicianOne Urgent Care's parent company Happy Mountains, she is also our Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Kenkare provides guidance and leadership to our health care team, and is responsible for the review of clinical guidelines, decision tools, and outcomes to develop and implement strategies that will improve patient care and clinical quality.