Guest post by Tammy-ann, LiceSquad
Let’s face it, head lice do not hibernate for the winter.
Your child is just as likely to get head lice during the colder months than at the start of the school year. How?
I bet the last thing on your mind when you’re bundling up the kids for school is that their clothing could become a prime candidate for head lice. Unless your child has their own personal locker, hats can get mixed up among the children and coats can touch while hanging on hooks. If a child has head lice, all takes is for one louse to transfer to the garment of your child, and suddenly, they are bringing home a lousy friend.
So how do you prevent head lice during the winter months and what can you do if you find head lice on your child?
Let me start with the basics.
What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny insects ranging from 1mm-4mm in size. They are reddish brown in colour, and may appear more translucent if they haven’t yet fed.
How do they survive?
Head lice thrive on human blood. They love to make their homes on the heads of humans because our body heat incubates them and their eggs (nits), giving them the perfect place to reproduce and thrive.
How long do they live?
Head lice can live for up to 30 days. The nits take 7-10 days to hatch, and then it takes another 7-10 days for a female louse to mature enough to reproduce. Once she is fully mature, she can lay between 3-5 eggs per day.
How can I prevent head lice?
The key to head lice prevention is knowledge. When you educate yourself on what head lice looks like and how head lice are spread, you are half way to being head-lice free.
The other half comprises of conducting regular head checks and keeping some preventative products on hand that help keep head lice at bay.
To conduct an effective head check, you can do one of two things:
1) Perform a visual check, paying attention to the areas behind the ears, the crown of the head, and nape of the neck. You should look for nits which are shaped like a teardrop, secured to the one side of the hair shaft and translucent in colour. They don’t come off easily from the hair. They need to be pulled or combed out. If you’re only dealing with one or two head lice, they are quick movers and stay on the move once they feel the presence of fingers moving through the strands of hair. This is why finding the nits is important. The nits, once hatched, can quickly lead to an infestation.
2) Invest in a good quality head lice comb. A good head lice comb is perhaps the most important step in not only head lice prevention, but removal as well. We recommend using a white based conditioner in your child’s hair so that as you comb through, any evidence of lice and their eggs become prevalent.
What do I do if I find head lice?
You can use a quality head lice comb for removal. A quality head lice comb will have long metal tines with grooves to help pull head lice and nits from the hair. If you use a white based conditioner while doing this, the contrast will make it easy to see lice and nits pulled from the hair when you wipe the comb on a white paper towel or napkin.
You can also invest in an eco-friendly mineral or enzyme-based head lice solution. Though they work well to assist in removing live head lice, it’s up to the combing to remove the eggs (nits) and their hair debris.
5 Myths About Head Lice De-Bunked
1) Can my pet get head lice? No! Head lice thrive on the human head only.
2) Can head lice hop, jump, or fly? No! Head lice crawl.
3) Can head lice infest my home? No! As mentioned, head lice thrive on the human head and need a blood meal in order to survive. Without a blood meal, head lice will starve within 48 hours. This makes it very hard for head lice to infest a home.
4) Can head lice spread disease? No! Head lice can’t transfer disease from one person to another.
5) Will dying my hair kill head lice? No! The only thing you will get from dying your hair is a new hair style. It will not eradicate the lice.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful. It’s important to keep your children safe and comfortable during the cold winter months, but the last thing you want to do is create the perfect environment for a head lice infestation. Head lice is so common that there is no real way to avoid contact with it, but taking the necessary prevention steps will help stop head lice from becoming an issue for you and your family.
For more information on head lice treatment and prevention, check out LiceSquad.com