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Uh oh, it’s actually not dandruff. Many a parent knows that awful realization that somehow, her child’s hair has become infested with head lice. But contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to panic and rush to the store for a bottle of Super Strong Lice Killer! Your best bet is safe, simple, and effective tools like a steel comb.

Prevention and Early Detection

To get ahead of a lice infestation, talk with your child now. Encourage your child not to share headphones, headrests, hats, hair ribbons, barrettes, scarves, bicycle helmets, brushes or combs.

Talk with your child’s teachers about storing coats in cubbies rather than hanging them on hooks where they can come in close contact with each other.

Buy a fine-toothed, metal comb now such as the LiceMeister or LiceOut so that you are ready just in case. These can be found at your local drugstore or ordered from the National Pediculosis Association.

Tie back that long, beautiful hair with some lovely ribbons and barrettes. Consider a new, shorter hair style.

Once a note comes home from school, check your child’s hair for lice and their eggs or nits. Head lice are brown or grayish colored, oval shaped and a little smaller than a flea. Nits are attached to the hair shaft close to the scalp. Continue checking regularly.

I’ve got them!  What do I do?

The safest, most effective treatment is careful combing to remove lice and their eggs.

Combing should be repeated every night for at least 12 days, as nits will continue to hatch for 8-11 days.

Diligent, careful combing alone can be effective, eliminating any need for a pesticidal product. Using a pesticidal shampoo does not mean there’s no need to comb out the nits.

Removing Lice from Your Home

Take some steps to remove lice and eggs from your home. Wash clothing and bedding in hot water and tumble-dry on high heat for 30 minutes. Soak brushes and combs in water above 130° F for 15 minutes. Vacuum floors and furniture your child may have had contact with. After vacuuming, remove the bag, seal the openings and dispose of it properly. Bag up items that can’t be laundered (like stuffed toys) for at least 11 days.