Children must be taught how to avoid getting lice

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 30, 2018

When I was in elementary school, I didn’t have the concept of personal boundaries quite down pat. As a result, after lots of hugs and sharing of hats, jackets, and hairbrushes with friends, I ended up getting lice. Twice.

Getting rid of a lice infestation is a horribly long and invasive process. When I had lice, my mother washed my sheets and pillows every day. She took me outside three times a day to comb through my hair while we listened to audiobooks, and she put down blankets for me to sit on in the living room, away from the furniture. Because I insisted on sleeping with a stuffed bear every night, it also had to be put in the dryer on high-heat every morning to kill any insects. The poor thing nearly lost an eye in the process.

As a result of the all the trouble she went through the first time, when my mother found out I had gotten lice a second time she nearly fainted.

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While nothing is 100 percent effective, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent a lice infestation. The first of which is to teach children the danger of sharing personal items such as hats and hairbrushes. While head lice don’t live on clothing or inanimate objects, they can easily use them to move from child to child.

Besides avoiding the sharing of items, also tell children not to get close enough to friends that their heads or hairs are touching. Tell them to use different pillows and blankets at sleepovers, and to avoid giving hugs to children who have been scratching their heads.

Additionally, there are preventative shampoos that can be purchased for children. These shampoos use natural oils to repel lice. Avoiding lice is hard, but not impossible. By using preventative measures such as lice-repellant shampoos and teaching children about the importance of personal boundaries, they can avoid a drawn our process to rid their heads of these creatures.