Preventing Head Lice
Common ways of avoiding head lice include not sharing hats, scarves, towels, or other items, as well as avoiding direct head-to-head contact with an infested person. Schools and daycare centers can take measures that include assigning sleeping mats to only one child and disinfecting headgear that is shared among children. Education also goes a long way in head lice prevention, so teach children how it is spread and how they can avoid it.
Head lice are most commonly spread by direct head-to-head contact and, less frequently, by head lice that have crawled onto clothing or belongings. As a short-term measure to control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp, you can teach children to avoid playtime and other activities that are likely to spread lice.
Additional suggestions for preventing head lice include the following:
- Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
- Do not share clothing, such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair ribbons.
- Do not try on other people's hats (even in department stores).
- Avoid head-to-head contact common during play at school and at home (sports activities, on a playground, slumber parties, at camp, etc.).
- Do not share combs, brushes, hair ornaments, or towels.
- If your child is going to a slumber party, pack his or her own pillow and towel.
- Check your children's hair weekly for lice or nits. Treat the hair right away if you find them.
There are also some things that schools and daycare centers can do to keep head lice from spreading. Prevention strategies include the following:
- Teach children to hang coats separately and to place hats and scarves inside coat or jacket sleeves.
- Provide separate storage areas for each person's clothing and other personal articles. Put personal articles in individual bins or sacks.
- Avoid sharing costumes and headgear/helmets. Use disposable shower caps or inexpensive liners when headgear/helmets must be worn by different children.
- If headgear must be shared, it should be cleaned and disinfected with Lysol® or rubbing alcohol before being issued to other students.
- Encourage parents to check their children regularly for head lice.
- Assign a sleeping mat to only one child.
- Begin head lice education within the classrooms so that children can understand head lice and what they can do to help prevent the spread of it.