Lice in daycare? Preschoolers with lice? Those phrases are enough to set off a panic attack in any mom or teacher. But try to hold off on freaking out! You can get rid of lice easily without losing sleep or hiring a professional. Keep reading!
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How to Easily Get Rid of Lice in Preschool
How to Check for Lice
Especially on dark hair, you’re more likely to notice nits (lice eggs) than a louse itself. If you suspect lice, check over a child’s head thoroughly for little white specks like these. On light hair or a bad case, you might find live lice, too. But if there’s only a few, they’re pretty good at hiding and the nits will be easier to spot.
If the specks come out fairly easily, then they’re probably dandruff! You’ll know what you see are nits if they are hard to remove and found mostly toward the root of the hair, rather than the ends, since lice live on the scalp.
If you need to use a lice comb or your fingernails to pull the specks off the hair, you’ve found nits. You can also inspect the speck more closely if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. Nits are actually clear, and you will be able to see a tiny bug inside the egg in more mature nits.
How to Get Rid of Lice
To prevent the lice from spreading to other children, send home any kids who have nits or lice. Tell them they need to treat their hair for lice before they can return to care or school.
The reason it can be a pain to get rid of lice is that over the counter medications don’t usually kill nits. And it can take 2 weeks for nits to hatch. So though the parents treat their child’s hair, if a nit was missed with the lice comb, it could hatch in a week or two and the process repeats itself if the child isn’t retreated with the medication before the young lice lay more eggs.
This is what I’ve used to treat my family in the past:
Remove all soft toys from your playroom. This includes:
- Stuffed animals
- Doll baby clothes and blankets
- Dress Up Clothes
- Nap Blankets
Use hot water in your washing machine and use the dryer for anything you can machine wash. The heat will kill any lice or nits that might be on the toys.
If you can’t wash the toys, put them in a trash bag and remove them from the play area for 2 weeks. Then any lice or nits that may have fallen onto the toys will die off before the kids play with them again.
Vacuum. Sweep your carpets, chairs, and couches for good measure. But realistically, according the CDC, the chance of another infestation occurring because of a louse that fell onto toys, carpet, or furniture, is very low.
As I mentioned earlier, the reason lice comes back after treatment is because an egg remained after the first treatment and recently hatched and began laying new eggs.
Check, check, and check again.
I’ll say it one more time: the reason lice comes back after you treat it is because a missed egg hatched.
So to keep it from getting worse, you will have to be on top of checking the child’s hair every day or two for a few weeks. If you find new nits or lice, the parents will have to treat their hair again.
In fact, they should treat it after 2 weeks just in case, because adult lice can be hard to see on the scalp. Over the counter medications recommend a second treatment after 9-10 days, but a lot of parents skip this step, and that’s why they come back!
How to Prevent Lice
Most people associate lice with poor hygiene. But that’s not actually true. Anyone can get lice, even if they wash and brush their hair every day (I did!).
Realistically, I’m not sure you can prevent lice from happening. Kids play with other kids and they put their heads close together and the lice migrate.
But you can be vigilant in treating the situation as soon as it comes up. Make it a regular thing to quickly check your kids’ hair for nits. Remember, nits mostly stick an inch or so away from the root of the hair. And they stick, not pull off easily like dandruff. Once you know what you’re looking for, it won’t take you long to look.
I also really like to use a lice comb. Every winter when my scalp starts getting dry, I dig it out and do a good comb through just to be sure I’m itchy from dry skin and not lice!
I really think that combing out every nit I could find and using the comb daily afterwards to be sure is really what kept my daughter and I lice free after the first treatment. But again, always follow the directions on the medication for best results! Most say you need to treat again after 9-10 days when any nits could have hatched.
→ Also, someone once told me that lice don’t like coconut scented products. I have no idea if there’s anything to that or not, but I buy my kids coconut scented shampoo just in case 🙂 I also straightened my hair everyday to get rid of lice when I was pregnant and afraid to use chemicals to treat them, but that also wasn’t a terrible infestation like I’ve seen on other kids.