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Tips for Avoiding and Preventing Lice

Updated on February 27, 2010

Lice are every parent's nightmare - mine included. We successfully avoided it for 11 years, but I think it is a rite of passage and we finally succumbed last year. Lice have been around for hundreds of thousands of years and I am sure they will continue to be for at least that long. But that doesn't mean that you or your children have to live with them. There are ways to avoid getting lice and hopefully prevent them from ever getting on your child's head.

First here are some facts to help you understand lice. A louse cannot fly or jump. They can only crawl. This means that there needs to be head to head contact in most cases. Lice can also be transmitted from hats, scarves, helmets, combs, brushes, and hair pieces like ponies or clips. BUT lice can only live for about 30 minutes when not on a head so that does help prevent the spread. Lice eggs however can take up to a week to hatch so if the eggs are spread you might not know you have lice for a few days after being infested.

In light of this information teach your child to never wear anyone else's hats or scarves. Also tell them not to share combs or brushes with anyone. Picture two kids bending over the same book or sitting close on a bus, especially girls with long hair. This is a prime opportunity for lice to travel from head to head. Sports helmets are harder, as they can be expensive and many teams share helmets. Try to purchase your own and don't let your child share. This might seem silly or extreme, but lice can be very difficult to get rid of, so if you really want to avoid it, every precaution must be taken.

Lice do not like the smell of tea tree oil I learned. Although expensive, a small bottle goes a long way. I have mixed a capful in each of our shampoo bottles. This is enough to give our hair a strong tea tree smell and the lice typically will avoid a head that smells bad to them.

We also cut our children's hair short. To make it easier to comb through and give the lice fewer places to live. Unfortunately I have a daughter with curly hair and it puffs out quite a bit. This means that when she stands next to other girls her hair can easily overlap theirs, allowing for transmission of a louse. I prefer her to keep her hair in a pony tail or held down with a headband. I figure it can't hurt anyway and whatever I can do to prevent another outbreak the better.

Once you have lice in your house, more precautions need to be taken. Because eggs can live for so long before hatching, you need to wash and dry everything that could be hosting an egg. Think sheets, pillow cases, all bedding, stuffed animals, even coats and hats. If you can't wash all this, bag everything up and set it aside for two weeks. When the eggs hatch they will have no source of blood and die quickly. By regularly washing items you can at least prevent the spread of lice if they are in your house. Avoid borrowing stuffed animals from friends, the school or the library. There was an outbreak in our town a couple of years ago and the lice were being spread through stuffed animals borrowed from the library. You just never know where those eggs could be hiding.

Lice are no fun! If you get them there are plenty of homemade remedies out there. While these home remedies work well, I much prefer to avoid the lice to start with.  I wish I could say it is completely avoidable, but you can still do everything right and end up with lice.  Hopefully these tips will help you.


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    • profile image

      Paola alvares 6 years ago

      If u hav lice ,or want to prevent lice 4m getin to u irecomend 4 to shower often at least everyday or everyother day.if u have lice i say u should cut ur hair or keep it tied.thnx 4 reading nd hope this helps.

    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 8 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      wow your hubs are awesome, thank you for all the great information!!! Nice Hub Scores too! I hope I can learn more from you as I continue to write articles

    • profile image

      michaellai 8 years ago


    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 8 years ago from Southern Missouri

      Good advice, thanks.

    • pddm67 profile image

      pddm67 8 years ago from Queens, New York

      Great hub with great advice! It took us a total of six months to completely get rid of those little buggers. I almost had a nervous breakdown - literally! What finally worked for us was a perscription from the doctor. I believe it was called Ovid. That and cleaning EVERYTHING in the house. Carpets, couches, clothing, drapes, bedding, etc. The kids ended up picking it up while on vacation. Now when we go on vacation, I bring lice spray and spray everything down. That's probably my one paranoia! Rock on!

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Great to know all about lice. Thanks.

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 8 years ago

      Hello Jennifer

      Having lice is almost a passage of rites on the way to growing up. On both occasions I found lice in my son's hair I treated the problem with large amounts of cheap hair conditioner combed through the hair with a lice comb.


    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      They drink Kwell now! A200 and Rid are better. There is a shampoo you can get at your hairdresser's to help prevent getting them. Its called Fairytales.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 8 years ago from Virginia

      I remember we had an outbreak in elementary school...this should have been posted everywhere at the time...However eww I feel itchy and weird just thinking about them!Great hub, Jennifer!

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 8 years ago

      Fortunately my kids have never had lice and I hope they never do, but I guess things do happen. This was a very interesting hub, thanks for sharing!

    • mbgbermachea profile image

      mbgbermachea 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi, Jennifer!!! I just happen to pass by your interesting article and it's true. When we were girls, it is but natural to pass this stage of having lice on our heads especially if we do have long hair. Since these are parasites that crawl on the hair and makes us itchy, I just want to share that if somebody asks you how can this be prevented, tell them this. Go to a pharmacy, ask and buy KWELL SHAMPOO which is a very effective treatment for lice infestation on the hair, including hair in the pubic area (crabs). I used this when I was on those stage when I was still young. This was prescribed by my Pediatric Doctor which I also used with my little girl when she was young. You have to help your little girl use this because this is a medicine and smells like one too that I know she wouldn't like. I'm not just sure if this still smells the same these days. You have to pour them on your palm and spread it on all the hairy parts with a small towel just the right size of your hand and spread it thoroughly for about 3 minutes while it bubbles. Then rinse. She shouldn't use any other shampoo nor conditioner after this and should be repeated 2-3 days more until all the lice are dead and removed. One she combs her hair, it will just fall by themselves. Also, you might want to soak the combs you all use in the house with this in a small bowl where all of them would really be soaked for about an hour or so because the lice and their eggs, do stay on the combs... Well, this is it... Regards!!!

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 8 years ago from Florida

      Tell me about it! We went through this when my girls were small. Year after year the same two children were bringing them back to school, the parents being unable to read English did not understand the problem. My kids found out and explained to the parents. I sent a can of spray with my kids and a note to the school that the children were to spray the bus seat before sitting down and sit together and spray chairs when switching classes. At first they gave me heat about it, but then I got a letter. The teachers and drivers would be provided with the spray and required to spray the seats between students. It turned out to really stop the problem.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great hub and information.

    • profile image

      AARON99 8 years ago

      Wonderful hub really. Keep writing.