Updated on July 23, 2020
By Lice Technician, Sean McGee
Here are some tips from lice technician, Sean, on sleep-over lice safety and head lice.
Well, it’s the end of the week and your child is off to a sleepover. If you’ve ever done battle with a good case of lice in your house, you know it’s time-consuming and frustrating. If you haven’t yet had that experience, then you’re probably living on borrowed time. Lice are becoming harder to kill every day, even with lice medications, so cases are on the rise. You want to take precautions to prevent the spread of lice to your family.
Head Lice in Children
Children are the most likely group of the population to get head lice. It is stated that several million kids, between the ages of 6 and 12, will have lice each year. There are likely many more cases that go unreported since there is no way to really track the numbers. Many schools have dropped their no-nit lice policies, meaning that the school nurse probably doesn’t do lice checks, so the school does not have accurate statistics. Then there are parents who attempt to kill lice at home. In addition, all lice treatments done by professionals are confidential. There are children who do not know that they have it because they do not show symptoms of lice as they do not feel itchy. In other words, we don’t know for sure how many children will get lice in a year, but it is A LOT. If your child has lice, you are certainly not alone.
How are Lice Spread?
Before you send your child off to an overnight with her friends, you should know how lice are transmitted. You may have read about kids getting lice from combs, brushes, backpacks, bedding, furniture, etc. While you can get lice from these objects, it is not that likely. The survival of lice is dependent on their feeding from human blood multiple times daily. In other words, without a human host, specifically the head, lice will die within hours.
Having said that, if children are actively playing with these hair items and sharing them, then the lice may have been pulled out off the hair and are still resting on these items. Let’s face many little girls love to play hair dresser or dress up, especially when they are young.
So how are head lice most commonly passed around? These bugs crawl (they do not fly) from one person’s head to another. The reason that lice strike children more often than adults is for that very reason: children play with their heads in close contact. Watch two kids in preschool drawing pictures... they are sitting right next to each other. How about teenagers playing video games? Same thing. Siblings rolling around on the ground together? You got it.
The Spread of Lice at Slumber Parties
Children sleeping at a friend’s house is the Mecca of head lice transmission. What better way for a child to get lice than to sleep right next to a friend with lice? Lice are most lively in the dark. This means that while the kids are sleeping, lice will stealthily move from head to head. This is especially true if one head has a big infestation. The lice get crowded and seek out fresh heads...the ones that don’t yet have lice on them. This possibility of sharing lice increases if children are sharing a bed with a straight, unobstructed pathway right from one head to the other. If you learn anything about lice, make it that lice are very contagious and that it can be difficult, but certainly not impossible, to prevent lice.
How Do You Prevent Lice Transmission Among Friends at Sleepovers?
Your goal is to keep your child lice-free while allowing him or her the opportunity to spend time with friends. Lice can and will move onto anyone’s scalp. You can find lice in children and lice in the elderly and all ages in between. Lice will go to long thick hair and to buzz cut heads. You can find lice in African American hair, Asian hair, and in all ethnic groups. Since anyone with even a small amount of hair can get lice, you want to be vigilant in trying to protect your children.
Here is how to keep from getting lice at a sleep-over:
- Hopefully, you know the family well enough to know if the hosting family has had lice recently. If not, make a short phone call and find out. If they have had a case in the house recently, it probably isn’t a good idea for your children to go. You really don’t know if they have used effective ways to kill lice. Even the best lice treatment is only as effective as the person managing it. Remember head to head contact is how most lice are transmitted so you don’t want your child spending the night with someone who has lice. Communication is of paramount importance.
- Check your child for lice before she leaves for the sleep-over. The optimal way to check for lice and nits (eggs from lice) is to sit the child under a bright light or outside in sunlight. Then best way to check for lice is to go around the head section by section. When your child returns home from the overnight date, check her again as soon as she gets home. If she has gotten lice, you should have her treated before she transmits lice to others.
- Know what head lice look like in hair. In order to identify lice you need to know about their appearance. Lice are about .2 to .3 mm long at maturity, have 6 legs, and are wingless. They are translucent so they may appear brownish to almost white in color against the hair. After they feed on the blood, they take on a red cast. Nits are barely visible when first laid but grow to the size of a sesame seed. They are oblong with and have an antenna protruding from the end. They are not contagious. https://www.licedoctors.com/blog/are-nits-contagious.html If you feel comfortable with the parents of your child’s friend, you can ask them if you can check their child.
- Send your child with her very own pillow and blanket, or even better, a sleeping bag. This way you know the pillow and blanket your little one sleeps on is clean. While you can’t easily get lice from bedding, it is best to be cautious.
- If you allow your child to attend a sleep-over, make sure that she brings her own brush and doesn’t share the brush with anyone else. As with bedding, this is not a likely way to share lice but better to be safe than sorry. I can’t even begin to tell you how many cases I’ve treated that started at sleep-overs. This is definitely at the top of my list of hotspots for transmitting lice. If eight girls have a sleepover and use the same brush to make each other up, all it takes is one infested girl to spread the lice to everyone else. This also applies to any items for the hair: ribbons, ties, barrettes, clips, etc. inspect your child’s brush when she returns home. If you see anything suspicious then clean the brush. A good alternative to boiling brushes and hair clips is to put them in a ziplock and put them in the freezer overnight. This will not only kill lice and eggs, it won’t warp your expensive brushes.
- If you are going to allow this iconic sleepover activity at your house, ask permission of the other parents of the attendees to check their kids for lice. We have great pictures on this site to help you know what to look for. One helpful lice and nit identification strategy is to do your lice and egg cleaning and place the bugs and eggs on a white paper towel. If they are really lice and nits that you have picked out, they will show up clearly against the backdrop and will be brown. https://www.licedoctors.com/blog/what-do-lice-and-lice-eggs-look.html
How to Treat Lice in Children
Make sure to keep in contact after the sleepover to see if an active case of lice shows up in anyone from the sleepover. The faster you know your child has lice, the easier it will be to treat.
If you do find that your child has lice, you will need lice treatment. If you decide to treat you children on your own, you have two options: natural ways to kill lice and chemical lice medications which include prescription lice treatment and over-the-counter head lice medicine.
We advise you not to opt for chemical lice remedies of any kind. These products may be toxic and come with warnings such as don’t use to treat lice on babies. In addition, they are often not effective ways to kill lice at home. Lice are like many other species; in order to survive, they have have had to morph into creatures that are highly resistant to lice pesticides of any kind.
Natural home remedies have mixed results and those that are the most successful involve very thorough nitpicking. If you have the time, patience, ability, and inclination to carefully conduct lice removal at home, you may accomplish the task. The problem is that many people are not adept at lice removal, and more specifically at nit removal. If you do not know how to remove lice, which often comes with practice, you will unknowingly leave lice and nits in the hair. Then you will be starting all over. It is easy to overlook nits as they can be tiny, blend in with the hair, and there may hundreds or thousands of them.
Professional Lice Treatment
If you do find lice, it helps to be in experienced hands for lice treatment. If you are thinking, “I want lice treatment near me.”, you have come to the right place. LiceDoctors conducts lice treatment right in your home at a price that is lower than what you would be charged at a lice treatment salon! Many people assume that in-home head lice treatment is pricier than lice clinic pricing because we provide lice treatment with the most privacy, flexibility, and convenience available. The truth is that LiceDoctors has the longest track record (over a half million people treated) and the best results (99.9% efficacy) at prices that are on average almost half the price of a lice clinic. We do not have the expense of rent so we can pass the savings to you and you get the benefit of a professional house call at an affordable price.
LiceDoctors will conduct hair lice treatment and remove all visible nits. To get rid of lice permanently so that you don’t find more again 2 or 3 weeks later, your lice technician will give you a simple follow up plan. Your treatment is all natural and there is no risk of allergic reaction to the lice treatment such as you may find with chemical lice medications or natural lice remedies such as tea tree oils, anise oil, or other herbal oils.
LiceDoctors has the history, stability, and solid reputation of a national service combined with the personal touch of a local service. We are the best lice treatment service in Bethlehem and Easton and all of the Lehigh Valley because we get the job done safely and effectively. We are proud of our track record – technicians have successfully treated over 500,000 clients while maintaining an exemplary “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau. Your technician will use an all-natural, step-by-step, meticulous protocol to ensure that you are lice-free, and that’s a guarantee!
If you live in Bethlehem, Easton or another close community, call 484-725-6362 for lice treatment service in your area today. You can reach us from 7:00 am until midnight every day on your calendar. We understand that you can find lice any time of the day and that you need reassurance and expertise right away. LiceDoctors will help you!