An estimated 12 million cases of lice will occur this year according to the National Pediculosis Association and chances are your child or someone you know will be affected by a head lice infestation. Head lice are more of a nuisance than a health hazard but it is important to act quickly to relieve your family of the inconvenience and discomfort of lice infestation.
Lice cannot survive more than 1-2 days without a human host and they cannot live on pets. Eggs will die within 2 weeks once they are dislodged from the hair shaft and host. It is not necessary to use pesticide sprays on furniture, rugs or personal items and in many cases, this will cause more harm to your home environment than good. Your time will be much better spent combing nits and lice from the hair and following these steps to kill head lice in infested items.
1. Gather all personal items such as Combs, Brushes, Hats, Hair Clips, Headbands, Headsets, Helmets, Clothing, Stuffed Animals, Costumes, Pillows and Coats for clean up.
2. Soak all hair care items (such as combs, brushes, hair clips, etc.) in hot water (130°F) for 15 minutes.
3. For items that cannot be soaked in hot water such as headsets or helmets, place them in a tightly sealed plastic bag and put them in a freezer for 10-12 hours to kill the lice and eggs.
4. Wash all bedding and clothing that your child has used in hot water (at least 130°F) OR run them through your dryer's hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to dry clean items that cannot be washed.
5. Place items that cannot be cleaned or run through the dryer (i.e. stuffed animals and toys) in a tightly sealed plastic bag for 10-14 days.
6. Follow up with the vacuum to get rid of any lice dust or egg shells that were left behind. According to the NPA, vacuuming is the safest way to remove lice and fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals, or car seats- wherever someone with head lice may have rested their head.
7. Conduct a family head check once a week. You'll need a nit removal comb, a magnifying glass and lots of light. Chopsticks are also helpful to part the hair if you have those available.