Lice in the Classroom

Last month, I had lice in my house.

Yep. I said it. I'm admitting it on the World Wide Web.

 I'll spare you the saga, but basically, both of my daughters AND I had it. I spent 2 days trying to fight it myself. When I realized I was not only losing the battle, but losing my sanity as well, I waved the white flag and called The Lice Lady. Yes, she's a thing. No, that's not technically her name. She has a machine that kills all live lice and dehydrates the nits so that they all die, and then she combs them all out. She is a MIRACLE WORKER, I tell ya.

While we were there, I picked her brain about treatment/prevention, so today I want to share some of the things I learned. A lot of this info was new to me, and I was able to take this knowledge back to my classroom.
Do you have lice in your classroom? DON'T PANIC! This blog post gives tips and busts myths for these irritating insects.
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1. Lice don't fly or jump. 

In fact, they don't leave your head unless they are looking for a fresh head or are forced off (scratched off or removed). Every few days, they will move on to a fresh head, so they will crawl down a strand of hair and wait for their host to brush up against another person's hair. 95% of the time, head-to-head contact is how lice is transmitted from one person to the next. The other 5% of the time is from sharing hairbrushes, hats, etc.

TEACHER TIP: Wear your hair in a ponytail or bun behind your head. Then your hair can't brush up against other's hair. Hair must be behind your head. Pig tails on the side of your head don't work. I have short hair that doesn't fit in a pony, but that's fine because my hair doesn't hang down low enough to brush up against someone else's hair.

Also, you can put your hairbrushes in a plastic bag (zipper bag or grocery bag) and put it in the freezer for 10-12 hours to kill anything that might be on them.

2. Lice can't live for more than a day or two without a human head. 

And it's actually more like 12 hours that they can survive, but they say 24-48 hours to be on the safe side. Nits also need the warmth of a human head to incubate, so usually only the ones close to the scalp are viable to not only hatch, but to survive. If any eggs fall onto pillows or stuffed animals, the chances of them hatching are slim to none.

TEACHER TIP: You don't need to bag pillows, cushions, and stuffed animals for two weeks. Unless a person with lice was literally rubbing the object on their head, you really don't need to treat it... and according to #1 above, even if lice or nits are on them, the chances of them not only living, but finding a new host are minimal.

But if you can't wrap your head around that, get a lint roller. They are seriously your best friends! That's how she recommended I clean my carseats, hoods of our coats, and the backs of our couches. Just roll the pillow/cushion on all sides and any lice or nits will stick to the roller. Another thing you can do is throw stuffed animals in a super hot dryer for 30-45 minutes. The heat will kill anything that's on them. Weekends are also great for the classroom. Two days without any people? The bugs won't make it.

Spraying your classroom with pesticides or fogs is NOT a good idea. Exposing people to the chemicals isn't worth the little benefit it would have on anything that is crawling around.

3. Lice doesn't happen overnight.

Sure, it takes a second for a louse to crawl on your head, but that doesn't mean you're instantly infested. When a louse lays an egg (nit), it takes 7-10 days for the nit to hatch. Then it's another 10ish days before they're an adults and can lay eggs of their own. A female louse will lay 3-5 eggs a day for the next 2ish weeks, or until she crawls onto someone else's head. So if you find 20, 30, 40 nits in your hair, it means you've had lice for a while...

TEACHER TIP: Be prepared, just in case. I now have a lice comb at home, and I quickly run the comb through my hair every 1-2 weeks. Since strands of hair are 3-dimensional, make sure you comb your hair from different angles to get anything that might be on the underside of the hair. I also use the Fairy Tales lice preventative shampoo and conditioner about once a week. My husband uses a shampoo/conditioner with mint and tea tree oil, which are also natural deterrents. A friend of mine swears by the repel spray, but I haven't tried it yet.
Do you have lice in your classroom? DON'T PANIC! This blog post gives tips and busts myths for these irritating insects.


Yes, head lice is gross, but if a student in your class has it, DON'T PANIC! Just be prepared. And if you do end up getting lice yourself, see if there is a Lice Lady in your area!

Here's my daughter getting the lice treatment:

And now my head itches again...

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Do you have lice in your classroom? DON'T PANIC! This blog post gives tips and busts myths for these irritating insects.

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