Head lice are a common problem among kids. Even though they don’t transmit disease, they are still very contagious and tough to get rid of. The bites can also make a child’s scalp itchy and irritated, which can interfere with their sleep or concentration at school.
If you’ve recently learned that your child has head lice, you’re probably wondering how long they’ll be contagious for. In this post, we’ll answer this question so that you can have a realistic expectation for when your child can be with other kids.
How Long is My Child Contagious after a Lice Treatment?
Once your child receives a head lice treatment, they are no longer considered contagious. Nits can be stubborn and may survive a head lice treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.
For this reason, most schools have tossed out their previous no-nit policies. They’re no longer recommended by doctors, the American Academy of Pediatrics or the National Association of School Nurses. Here are some reasons why no-nit policies should be discontinued:
- Most nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. These nits are unlikely to hatch and become crawling lice. In fact, many are empty shells.
- Nits cemented to the hair shafts are less likely to be transferred to other people.
- Some cases of head lice are actually misdiagnosed, keeping kids out of school for no reason.
- The burden of absenteeism, social embarrassment, missed work and other factors outweigh the risks of head lice.
Bottom line: Once your child receives a successful head lice treatment, they can return to school the next day.
What Treatments are Considered Successful?
The key word in treating head lice is to choose a “successful” lice treatment. We usually don’t recommend doing an at-home treatment because they tend to be ineffective and have inconsistent results. They can also be messy – imagine covering your child’s head in mayonnaise, oil or petroleum only to discover that it wasn’t necessary!
Over-the-counter treatments have better success rates, but even these are failing. Medicated shampoos often contain harsh ingredients and pesticides like permethrin, and lice are often resistant to them. A better option is to choose a safe, nontoxic product that has documented success rates.
My Hair Helpers offers a full line of head lice treatment products. They contain dimethicone, one of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics, haircare and skincare. You can purchase our family friendly products on Amazon. We also have three head lice treatment salons in southern California, as well as a mobile service.
Once you use our head lice treatment, your child can return to school, daycare or summer camp. We do recommend following up with another treatment to get rid of any nits that weren’t killed off. Combing through your child’s hair is also an effective way to ensure you’re lice free – be sure to do this every 3-4 days for at least two weeks.
If you have additional questions about head lice, give My Hair Helpers a call and we’ll be happy to help! We want you to have the correct information.