I am phobic, phobic about head lice! I have been since I was a child. Turns out, I probably work in the worst profession for someone with this phobia — right? I have to laugh at the irony. Over the years, my OCD around the topic has helped me to develop some survival techniques for dealing with this enemy. By no means am I even remotely close to having the expertise of a nurse or dermatologist, but through talking to school nurses, reaching out to the teacher blogging world, and digging into some general online research, I have found a few good tips and resources for lice prevention. Read on to see what my head lice plan of attack is for this school year!
As recommended by the American Association of Dermatology (AAD): "Teach your child to stop sharing things that touch the head. Brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, helmets, scarves, towels, and even earbuds offer head lice a good place to hang out until they can crawl onto a human. When someone has head lice, tell your child not to touch couches, chairs, pillows, rugs, and beds that a person who has head lice uses."
The jury is out on a final verdict, but I’ve talked to many a mother, even some who are nurses, and certainly found all over Pinterest, the wonders of using tea tree and lavender oils mixed with shampoo or water solutions as a preventative measure (and possibly treatment) against these pests. Certainly, do your own research, but I personally mix this solution into my son’s shampoo and styling spray bottle. It smells great, his hair looks great, and it gives me some hope that it might be helping prevent any creepy crawlers from coming home as stowaways.
BAG IT UP:
I’ve used heavy-duty garbage bags to store everyone’s personal belongings when we’ve had a lice outbreak in class. Two years ago I had what I think was a genius moment when I realized I should just do this same prevention all year. We don’t have separated cubbies, so student coats, backpacks, hats, etc. are constantly right next to each other, which is not optimal when trying to prevent the spread of head lice. My first attempt at daily bagging led me to the dollar store laundry bags below. These worked great for organization of our entryway, and must have at least somewhat helped with lice spread prevention.
The laundry bag method is certainly worth a try (if for no other reason than for organization of a hook area in the classroom), but it has two drawbacks: 1) The bags eventually wear out, usually before the end of the year; and 2) The bags are not totally sealed, nor made of 100 percent impermeable material.
So, I scoured the Internet for other potential ideas and found the king of lice prevention bags: SUPER JUMBO zipper seal bags with handles. These were originally designed for basement storage, but are perfectly sized for backpacks, coats, and other home items. They seal, they hang, and they are made of plastic so they are impermeable!
WHEN LICE STRIKES:
According to the AAD, if lice become an issue in your classroom (or at home), there are a few things you can do to catch the problem early and hopefully remedy the situation. As for my own tip, I would certainly suggest instantly bagging up belongings of ALL STUDENTS into at least garbage bags or any of my other suggestions above. On the AAD website, they suggest you:
Check your child’s hair
Inspect household items that can get infested with lice and nits: towels, rugs, and bedding.
Look carefully at the clothes your child has worn during the past two days for lice and their eggs.
Reinforce the message to stop sharing anything that touches the head.
Tell your child to stop head-to-head contact with other kids until the school is free of lice.
LET’S TALK ABOUT LICE
Lice happens. We want kids to learn about it, know about how to prevent lice from spreading, and we also want to be very sensitive to the feelings of anyone who might have lice in the classroom. We would never want someone to feel isolated, bullied, nor made fun of because they have or had head lice. I find that having open discussions about lice, pointing out that head lice is a common part of elementary school life, and that lice can happen to anyone prevents insensitivity from ever being an issue.