Nobody wants to see their child scratching their head and complaining about itchiness. And when you see the slips of paper or get the call to pick up your child from school for head lice, it can really make a heart skip a beat. Head lice can be frustrating to deal with. It’s important to first clean the head lice off the child, then do a full cleaning of the house. This will make sure they’re all gone, so you won’t catch them again. But what is the best way to clean your home to make sure the lice are all gone? Below is the ultimate guide on what you need to know, and what you need to do. A basic rule of thumb is check your child’s head regularly and do necessary treatments when there is an infestation. Then vacuum the home to prevent any nits from remaining. Then, no matter when your child catches head lice, you’ll be able to handle it quickly and remove any chance of repopulation.
What is Head Lice and How to Find It
Head lice are obligate parasites. They must feed on other living organisms to survive. There are over 5,000 species of lice in the world. Only three kinds can feed off of humans. Head lice are the most common and are a plague in schools across the country. A head louse is a long oval shaped insect that hangs onto the hair shaft and uses a toothed probiscis to feed on blood from the scalp. They are commonly known as nits, and when they lay their eggs, they secure the eggs to the bottom of hair shafts with their saliva. The eggs can be difficult to remove without special products. It takes a newly hatched nymph about a month to become an adult. They are very contagious and will attach to other heads by transfer of hats, close proximity and playing with other people’s hair.
The best way to spot these pests is to watch your child’s behaviors and use a lice comb. If your child starts to scratch their head regularly, or starts to complain of excess itchiness, then grab a lice comb and look for small eggs near the hair shafts and nits in the hair. It’s easy to see what your comb picks up by first combing a portion of the hair near the scalp, then wiping the comb onto a white towel. Inspect the towel to see if there are any nits or eggs. For younger children, there can be a mix of things in the comb. Craft items such as glitter and debris from playing could lurk in your child’s hair, so be sure you sort out the nits from other items.
How to Remove Head Lice From the Head
Once you have a confirmed case of head lice, act quickly. The longer the head lice stay active, the larger the infestation will become. There are products and information available here and in common grocery stores. Check the labels because some treatments are more effective at killing the adults, and some are effective at killing the nymphs. It’s important to use a lice killing shampoo, and to do multiple checks with lice combs to ensure you are killing the lice. Treatments usually involve sprays, shampoos and conditioners.
How to Properly Clean Your Home
Lice cannot live without their host, the human head, so they do not burrow and hide within the fabrics of rugs or furniture. However, they can be attached to fallen hair or have fallen off the head onto pillows and sheets where the head has laid. Any heavily trafficked area in the house could have some head lice, and if they are still there, they could manage to get back onto a head and reinfest someone in your home. The most effective treatment for protecting your house is a good vacuuming. Once head lice has entered the home, you need to get rid of the nits on the head. Then get rid of any nits that have fallen to the ground. Vacuum these key areas right after the first treatment on your child’s head.
- Entry way
- Living room floor
- Bathroom rugs
- Bedroom floor
- Play room
For stuffed animals and bedding, throw them in the dryer on a hot setting, and wash all of the child’s recently worn clothes and laundry. The vacuum is the most effective way to rid any fallen lice from the house. It will pick up and trap all the nits and prevent them from finding a new head to infest. Because nits cannot survive without the human head, there is no need for linen, furniture or carpet sprays. These items can be hazardous to breathe, and dangerous. Pesticides that were once used to purge head lice now are not effective, as the lice have evolved to withstand the chemicals. Vacuuming is actually the best prevention, just sweep over questionable areas where there is a lot of traffic. Removing the nits from the source, a human head, and making it impossible for them to reach one by vacuuming them up is effective and simple.
After one treatment, your child will no longer be contagious. They should be safe to go back to school. But it is still safe to vacuum the house for the next couple of days, to pick up any fallen hairs. And vacuum where you comb out the child’s hair for lice checks. Continue with any subsequent treatments necessary as per the instructions on the products and keep up the vacuuming. You will be sure to clear out any lice that have entered your home in a short time.
Head lice are a frustrating ordeal, and sometimes infestations can hit schools multiple times a year. But you don’t have to be caught unawares. Take a few minutes in the morning or evening and use a lice comb to go through your child’s hair once a week. Do this a couple of days a week during common infestation seasons. Keep your child’s hair kept up in buns or ponytails, and teach your children to keep their hair to themselves. Vacuum your home regularly and do a couple steps off of the ultimate guide list at least once a month to ensure that your home is in top condition. This will prevent any stray lice to be able to get onto your child’s head and reinfest them. With this vacuum routine your home will stay fresh, clean and beautiful. Even if your child does catch another infestation, you’ll be able to handle it with ease.