If you're the parent of a child who has been sent home from school or daycare multiple times this year due to concerns about head lice, you're likely frustrated that the efforts you've gone through to rid your child's head (and bedding and other soft household surfaces) of lice has been in vain. Fortunately, there are more options than ever before to help parents get rid of these bloodsucking critters for good. Read on to learn more about your head lice eradication options.
What makes today's head lice different?
Those who don't remember dealing with such tenacious head lice during their own childhoods may be on to something – the use of powerful shampoos and other chemicals to eradicate head lice during previous generations may have contributed to a new insecticide-resistant strain of head lice that are much tougher to treat.
In addition, many states have relaxed their public health standards when it comes to head lice, permitting children who have been diagnosed with head lice to return to school or daycare before they've been proven to be lice-free, sometimes as soon as the next day. This combination of factors can make it easier to get (and harder to get rid of) head lice than it was a few years ago.
How can you get rid of head lice when over-the-counter treatments have failed?
Your first step when designing a plan of attack is to determine the origin of your child's head lice. If your child is continuing to be re-infested because eggs or nits are still present in your home, your treatment plan will be different than if your child keeps winding up with head lice due to another child in the class who has never quite managed to get rid of these pests.
You may want to divide and conquer – with one parent taking your child to a hair salon that offers professional lice-removing services while the other parent stays home to wash bedding, steam-clean upholstery, and take other steps to fully eradicate head lice, nits, and eggs from any soft surfaces in the home.
You'll also want to carefully review with your child the behaviors and actions that are most likely to lead to a re-infestation – from putting their head next to a classmate's during story hour to sharing pillows, combs, or other objects that touch the head directly. By taking a few precautionary steps, you should be able to ensure these lice stay gone for good.