Head lice prevention is helpful to keep lice away. Understanding how lice are transmitted is important if you want to try to avoid the little pests. Head lice are most commonly spread through direct head to head (hair to hair) contact and less commonly by sharing clothing, bedding or chairs. One thing that is hard for most to understand, is the risk of getting a head lice from a louse that had fallen onto the carpet or furniture is very low. Head lice do not survive for much more than a day if they are not on a human head. Also nits (eggs) cannot hatch and usually die if they are not kept at the same temperature as found near the scalp. According to the Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/prevent.html) the following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control the spread of head lice:
- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
- Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
- Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
- Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
- Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
- Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Heartland Healthy Heads strives educate the community about head lice prevention and safe treatment options. Please call our 24 hour Lice line at 913-730-6487 with any head lice questions regarding prevention or treatment.