Lice. Nasty little creepy crawlies that make your head itch just thinking about them. You know I’m right. If you’ve battled lice before, you know what a grueling and exhausting process it can be to get rid of these critters from your heads and home. But, what if we could take steps to help prevent them from coming into your home? It is absolutely possible with some simple lice prevention for kids tips!
Real talk: kids get lice
Let’s bust a myth right now, lice can hit any household at any time. Lice don’t care how clean you keep your counters or the fact that your kids get a bath every day. The idea that you can only get lice if you live in a dirty home is just not true.
BUT if your kids happen to come home with those little critters, it’s just not fun to tell friends and family that your house has lice. There’s still this terrible stigma attached to lice.
So let’s try to stop this lice battle before it starts with some simple lice prevention for kids. I’m saying kids because they’re the most common point of entry for lice into a home. Unless you happen to work with kids…. then you might be patient zero.
But here’s the thing, getting lice isn’t a big deal. Lice are an annoyance. Not a life-altering medical condition.
How do lice spread anyway?
I’m glad you asked! Statistics show 90% of lice spread by head-to-head contact. When heads touch and one is contagious with lice, meaning there are adult fertilized females present, lice crawl from one head to the next. And BAM, your kid has lice.
This is why children are so susceptible to head lice. They play hard, have little concept of personal space, and love to be near their friends.
What is the best way to keep lice away?
There are only two methods that will 100% protect you from lice. You can have your child live in a bubble suit or never leave home and never have guests in your house. But those aren’t exactly realistic options.
The best way to keep lice away is with a weekly head check. Do this with a good metal nit comb and a conditioner or spray on wet detangled hair. Every few combs through the hair wipe the comb onto a white paper towel. Lice eggs, called nits, look like specks of black pepper and are easy to see on the white paper towel. This helps narrow the target. Just beware, this is also not guaranteed to prevent lice.
Simple lice prevention for kids
We know that you can’t 100% prevent lice (unless living in isolation is your jam). But there are some research-backed methods that could significantly reduce the likelihood of the creepy crawlies entering your house.
How do lice prevention products work?
Simple. Head lice are attracted to us by our human smell. If this smell is masked by another scent that has a repelling effect on head lice, then it will keep them away. According to a published by the International Journal of Dermatology, tea tree, peppermint, lavender, and coconut are all smells lice don’t like.
The study did note that the tea tree oil alone was the most effective treatment tested. Tea tree oil and lavender were also found to prevent some feeding by lice on treated skin. While the results show promise, the researchers concluded that none of the treatments were effective enough to endorse.
How does tea tree oil prevent lice?
Well. If I’m being totally transparent (which I always am), none of the research studies I read could really answer this question adequately. No one could quite figure out why the tea tree oil repelled lice more than other scents. And almost every single study mentioned that their results were not conclusive enough to support using tea tree oil as a guaranteed lice preventative.
Do lice prevention products work?
Lice prevention products are a huge industry- like millions of dollars annually.
But let’s own it.. a lot of these products are purchased out of fear. No one wants to deal with a lice outbreak, so we use these products religiously and expect not to get lice. The research is just not conclusive enough to show that certain smells are an effective lice prevention strategy. Using these products creates a false sense of security.
So. Is simple lice prevention for kids a myth? What now?
Well. Since I just ruined the idea that lice repellants are 100% effective, what should you do?
The study I mentioned above from the International Journal of Dermatology was enough evidence for me to start using Fairy Tales Lice Prevention products. While it’s clear that more research is needed, the most simple lice prevention for kids strategy seems to be use of tea tree oil and regular head checks.
At our house, we use the Fairy Tales Lice Prevention Shampoo, Conditioner, and Detangling Spray in conjunction with regular lice checks with a nit comb twice a month. I’m not claiming this method is foolproof or guaranteed, the research speaks for itself when it comes to lice prevention products. But, our house has survived many preschool lice and scabies outbreaks unscathed.
That’s enough evidence for me to continue this simple lice prevention for kids routine going!
Canyon DV, Speare R, A comparison of botanical and synthetic substances commonly used to prevent head lice (Pediculus humanus var. capitis) infestation, International Journal of Dermatology, 2007 Apr;46(4):422-6.
Julien Pelletier, Pingxi Xu, Kyong S. Yoon, John M. Clark and Walter S. Leal, Odorant receptor-based discovery of natural repellents of human lice, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 66, (103), (2015).
Ian F. Burgess, Christine M. Brown, Nazma A. Burgess and Judith Kaufman, Can head louse repellents really work? Field studies of piperonal 2% spray, PeerJ, 2, (e351), (2014).
J.T. Callander and P.J. James, Insecticidal and repellent effects of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil against Lucilia cuprina, Veterinary Parasitology, 184, 2-4, (271), (2012).