How to identify, treat and prevent head lice.
By Amy Chinian
We’ve all been there – your child starts scratching her head or you hear that she has been around someone who has it. But don’t fret! We talked to lice expert Amy Chinian, owner of My Hair Helpers, to get the scoop about how to get rid of these little creatures for good.
Q: What’s the best way to check my child for lice?
A: In a spray bottle, add water and peppermint conditioner (lice hate mint), and spray your child’s hair thoroughly – this stops anything from moving in the hair. Then, use the Lice Eliminator Comb (a spiral tooth metal comb) to comb through each section of the hair, looking for evidence of eggs, nits, or live bugs. If your child does have lice, notify family members, schools, friends, and acquaintances.
Q: If my child has lice, are there natural products I can use instead of over-the-counter ones?
A: I prefer the natural approach to getting rid of lice; we use natural oils to stop them from moving and enzymes to loosen the glue of the eggs (the glue they lay their eggs with is what causes some people to itch). Then, we comb everything out by hand and teach parents how to comb through correctly as well.
Q: How should I clean bedding, common areas, and brushes?
A: It’s important to understand that lice are parasitic and need blood to survive. The focus will always be on checking every family member and combing everything out of the hair. I recommend putting brushes and combs in a plastic sandwich bag in the freezer overnight and washing and drying sheets, pillowcases, and bedding in high heat. Lice only live 24 to 48 hours off your head.
Q: How long does my child need to stay home from school?
A: If you’re sure that you removed all the live bugs with your comb and products, your child can go back to school immediately. However, it’s important to comb every day to ensure that you don’t miss any egg that has hatched. Bugs are contagious – eggs are not.
Q: How can I prevent my child from getting lice?
A: Lice are most commonly passed by head-to-head contact. The best prevention for girls is to put their hair back in a braid or bun, then spray with mint lice repellent. Don’t share brushes or combs, either. You may never stop lice 100 percent, but by combing preventively once a week, you can catch an infestation early. If your child is prone to lice (lice leave behind a scent that is familiar to them), he or she may get recurring bouts – but combing is the only way to know.
Amy Chinian is the mother of five and the owner of My Hair Helpers, a natural lice removal company with mobile and salon service in the Greater Los Angeles and Santa Barbara area. For more information, visit http://www.myhairhelpers.com.