Lice Can Be a Real Itch For Parents

Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash

I loved playing baseball when I was a kid.

I started playing instructional league when I was 5 and I made the All-Star team when I was nine. For four straight summers I did nothing but go to baseball practice and play in games. Those memories remain some of my fondest of all time because they represent a carefree time. An innocent time. A time filled with teammates, grass stains and spitting sunflower seeds while collecting as many trophies as possible.

Oh, and lice.

Yup, that’s right. Lice. Because every summer at least one kid on our team had it, and it was spread because we all shared batting helmets. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that’s why all kids have their own helmets now – just to avoid the lice.

I remember the itch seemed to grow more intense each time my mom screamed “DON’T SCRATCH!!!” at me. And that the shampoo we had to use smelled terrible. Also, since I had a little brother who wouldn’t leave me alone, we often ended up balling up all our infected clothes and bed sheets and just burning them to err on the side of caution.

My oldest son is nine and he hates baseball (what kind of red-blooded American dad am I??). But the only silver lining there is, so far, I’ve never had to deal with lice as a parent. While I can’t give you any personal tips of how we battled those little bastards, thankfully I have partnered with people who know exactly what they’re talking about in the war against lice –

Lice Facts

  • Tiny bugs the size of sesame seeds
  • Most common in preschool and elementary school aged kids
  • Head lice feed on small amounts of blood from the scalp
  • They can usually live 1 to 2 days without blood meal (hint: YOU are the meal)
  • They lay eggs in your hair close to the scalp
  • Often confused with dandruff
  • Can live for a 28-day cycle
  • Best found by combing through your child’s scalp one section at a time

How to Treat Lice

  • Check with doctor first (especially if your child is 2 or younger)
  • Do not apply any medicine if you are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • Use an FDA-approved over-the-counter treatment
  • Make sure ingredients include Permethrin or Piperonyl Butoxide and Pyrethrum Extract

Here are 10 safe use tips for parents from theĀ American Academy of Pediatrics:

  1. Follow the directions on the package exactly as written.
  2. Never let children apply the medicine. Medicine should be applied by an adult.
  3. Do not use medicine on a child 2 years or younger without first checking with your child’s doctor.
  4. Do not use or apply medicine to children if you are pregnant or breastfeeding without first checking with your doctor.
  5. Always rinse the medicine off over a sink and not during a shower or bath, so the medicine doesn’t run off the head onto other areas of skin. Place your child’s head over a sink and rinse the medicine off with warm water (not hot water).
  6. Never place a plastic bag on a child’s head.
  7. Do not leave a child alone with medicine in his or her hair.
  8. Store medicine in a locked cabinet, out of sight and reach of children.
  9. Check with your child’s doctor before beginning a second or third treatment. Your child may need repeat treatment 7 to 9 or 9 to 10 days after the first treatment depending on the medicine.
  10. Ask your child’s doctor if you have any questions or if treatments you have tried have not gotten rid of lice.

And just for good measure, here’s a really useful infographic should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own but I was compensated by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA’s) Educational Foundation in support of for writing this post.

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