Kids bring all kinds of things home from school with them. Report cards, projects, books — and head lice. School season means lice season, and your kids might be at risk. Take a look at this article to find out how you can get rid of lice, and keep them out of your home for good.

Wingless parasites

If your child has been sent home from school with lice, there's no need for immediate panic. These wingless parasites will cause your child's head to itch, but they aren't dangerous and they can't spread any kind of disease. The one thing to watch out for is a possible bacterial infection. Children with sensitive scalps may develop a rash, while other children might not itch that much at all. If a small red rash appears on your child's head, it's a good idea to bring your child to a doctor. If a rash has occurred, your family doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics.

The spread of lice

It's true that lice can't fly, but they can crawl. Lice have special claws that allow them to cling to piece of hair with amazing force. Sharing hats, hairbrushes, clothing, linens, towels, and any other personal item will help lice to climb from one person to another. Since children often play closely with one another (and share lots of things), lice are more apt to attack children than adults. The good news is that while lice can claw their way from one person to the next, they can't attach themselves to pets.

Head treatment

Lotion, cream rinse, or medicated shampoo can all be attained by visiting with your child's family doctor. While some over-the-counter remedies do exist, it's best to speak with a medical expert. This way, the type of lice infestation that your child is dealing with can be eradicated right away. Once you have obtained the proper treatment, it's important that you follow a product's directions carefully. Most lice treatments are nothing short of insecticides, which means that overusing a product can cause serious irritation. But, don't worry — all of these products are easy to use.

Hand removal

Following a medicated treatment, it is wise to remove any remaining lice by hand. This is also true if the affected child is less than two years of age. Hand removal should be done every day for four to six weeks following initial treatment. Go through all of these steps to remove lice by hand:

  • Purchase a fine-toothed comb that is to be used only for head lice.
  • Wash and condition your child's hair — do not dry hair.
  • Ask your child to sit in a chair, and place a large towel underneath the chair.
  • Comb through your child's hair as thoroughly as possible.
Lice die almost immediately after being removed from hair, so there's no need to worry about fallen lice crawling around. Still, you may want to discard the towel that you have used, or wash it directly after you remove lice.

Cleaning your home

Unfortunately, lice can live inside of bed linens, towels, and other household items. This means that you will have to spend a day cleaning your home inside and out. Here are the things that you'll need to do to keep your home lice-free.

  • Wash any towels, sheets, blankets, and clothing that have been used by the infected person. Make sure to wash all of these items in hot water, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Dry-clean any items that cannot be washed in a conventional washing machine.
  • Hand wash teddy bears in hot soapy water, or place them inside of plastic bags for three weeks.
  • Vacuum the carpets inside of your home and inside of your car
  • Place any hair items (brushes, barrettes, clips) in a bath of hot water filled with rubbing alcohol.
  • Alternately, you can throw these items away and replace them.
Since lice can crawl from person to person, all members of your family should wash their hair with medicated shampoo. To be on the safe side, it's also a good idea to comb through each family member's hair using the hand removal method mentioned above.

What not to do

Sometimes we try so hard to protect our families that we wind up causing more harm than good. Lice are finicky creatures that may thrive off of your hard work. Here are some things to avoid at all costs:

  • Hair dryers: Do not use a hair dryer on any child that has recently used medicated lice shampoo. These medications can be extremely flammable.
  • Mixing medications: Avoid using more than one lice medication at the same time.
  • Washing hair: Wait a couple of days after a lice treatment to wash your child's hair with regular shampoo.
  • Feeling down: Don't fret about feeling dirty — lice have nothing to do with a dirty house! 
To try to avoid lice in the future, teach every member of your family not to share hair care items with other people. Most of the time, lice is unavoidable. Still, it never hurts to share as much information about lice with your family as you can — sometimes, prevention is the best possible course of action!

Harriette Halepis originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.

What to do when lice come home from school
Kids bring all kinds of things home from school with them. Report cards, projects, books — and head lice. School season means lice season, and your kids might