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Back to school is a busy time for parents – and head lice. It’s understandable why head lice cases increase in August and September, as children are returning to school after spending months at camp, daycare and other kids’ homes. There is plenty of opportunity for lice to spread in these settings, and many of the children won’t know they have lice just yet. 

Now that most schools are back in session for the new school year, it’s not a bad idea to educate your child and family on head lice. These tiny, wingless pests are not dangerous, but they are a nuisance. If there are ways to protect your family, we’re sure you would want to know!

Why Back to School Time is Busy for Lice 

Lice are crawlers. They cannot jump, hop or fly, so they crawl from one head to the next using strands of hair for leverage. Although lice can be spread from pillows, blankets and other items, this is unusual. Lice are most commonly spread through head-to-head contact, such as when playing games or roughhousing. 

The reality is that summer camps, daycares and playdates provide plenty of opportunities for kids to be close together. Your child can contract lice right away, but you won’t know it because probably just one louse is settling in. It won’t be until the louse lays eggs, the eggs hatch and the infestation grows that you will notice symptoms, a process that takes 4-6 weeks. 

So, when you consider it takes 4-6 weeks before symptoms show up, there could be a handful of kids who have lice and don’t know it. 

Ways to Prevent Head Lice at the Start of the School Year 

Now, it’s important to know that it’s not always possible to prevent lice infestations. There are many things you and your child can do to lower the risk, but lice are stubborn and very good at finding hosts. Still, it’s worth following these tips to prevent the spread of head lice at back to school time. 

  • No share rule. Talk to your child about not sharing certain items like hats, scarves and hair accessories. Label all of their belongings to prevent mix-ups. 
  • Use the cubby. If your child has a locker or cubby at school, encourage them to use it to store their stuff. This keeps their belongings in a safe and personal space. 
  • Apply a lice repellent. For extra protection, use a lice repellent like this one from My Hair Helpers. It smells like mint – a scent that lice hate but kids (and parents!) love. 
  • Check for lice. Once a week, comb through your child’s hair after their shower or bath. An adult louse is the size of a sesame seed and tan or gray in color. Nits are more difficult to see, but you can feel them if you run your fingernail down the scalp to the hair shaft. 

If your child does turn up with lice at back to school time, don’t panic! Lice do not spread germs or bacteria. Give My Hair Helpers a call to schedule an appointment, or shop our head lice products online. Our proprietary products are safe and effective for all hair types.