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Summer Camp Survival Guide: How to Treat & Prevent Head Lice

by Mireya Perez {{"2015-07-22T15:00:00.000Z" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Image by Julia Caesar

During summer breaks, with extended family visits and the kids going off to summer camp, many families encounter a different kind of hair concern—lice infestations. Lice are not dangerous, but are contagious, highly annoying, and hard to get rid of. 

Madison Reed’s always thinking about hair, health, and how to make your life easier, so we’ve gathered tips to treat and prevent outbreaks during this high season.

What are they?
Lice survive on small amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice excrete a type of saliva that causes children to scratch at their scalps. Although this is not serious, constant scratching could lead to a bacterial infection. 

Lice eggs—called nits—are yellow, tan, or brown and are sometimes mistaken with dandruff. If they can’t be removed easily from the scalp, they are probably nits.

How to prevent them
Whether you’re sending a child off to sleepaway camp or a neighborhood sleepover, give them a few pointers to prevent getting lice in the first place.

Avoid sharing:

  • towels
  • combs and brushes
  • hair clips and accessories
  • hats and bike helmets
  • headsets and earbuds

Talk to your kids about avoiding direct head-to-head contact or storing items they wear close to their head, such as hats or scarves, in closets where other kids keep their belongings.

How to get rid of them
But what if your child already has lice? Lice treatments with pyrethrins, like Rid or Triple X, are available at most drugstores. Follow instructions for use and then reapply the medication 7-9 days after the first application, especially if there are still visible lice crawling around.

The treatments will only kill the live lice, not the nits. To get rid of the eggs, remove them with a fine-toothed nit comb. You should recomb the hair every 2-3 days in order to get rid of any nits before they hatch. 

Most nit combs come with the medication, but are also available on their own at stores like Walgreens, Target, and CVS.

How to keep them away
Prevent reinfestation by washing on the hottest setting available all clothes and bed linens that your child used during the outbreak. Heat kills both lice and nits, so soak all hair brushes, combs, and hair accessories in water that is 130 degrees or hotter, for at least 5 minutes. You do not need to vacuum clean your house; lice usually die after 1-2 days of not feeding.

The most important thing to tell your child (and yourself) is that lice infestations do not mean you did anything wrong. They happen to a lot of families during the summer months. In fact, lice tend to prefer hygienic heads, so take it as a compliment… while you use our tips to get rid of them!

Tags:  Healthy Hair
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