Head Lice at Daycare: Prevention and Protocol
Your child’s first day at daycare can be both rewarding and emotional. It’s that first step to your child becoming independent and learning how to socialize with peers.
There are many benefits to your child attending daycare …
If your child is a picky eater, you might find they are willing to try new foods and mirror their friends eating habits. You’ll also find that your child falls into a routine and starts sleeping better for you at night – a full day of playing and learning can be quite tiring!
Despite all the benefits we could list, it still doesn’t stop the tears and endless flow of Kleenex from coming. It’s ok! As parents this will never stop. For every milestone our child reaches, there will be more tissues to pull out.
What we need to know as parents is that our child is safe. Whether they are at daycare, friend’s house, school, or gramma’s - we need to know that our children are protected.
As children get out and explore the great wide world, there are just some things you can’t avoid - colds and flu, scrapes and bruises, and of course head lice.
We have band aids for the boo boos, cough syrup for the cold, but what do you have in place for head lice? Here are some tips to help prevent head lice from infesting you and your family:
Head Lice at Daycare: Our Top Prevention Tips
- Know what to look for – head lice are small reddish-brown bugs measuring between 1mm and 4mm in size. They live on the human head only and can’t survive off the head for more than 48 hours without a blood meal. Head lice lay eggs on one side of the hair shaft. These eggs are caramel in colour and hard to remove without a proper head lice comb.
- Get on a routine – it’s important to check for head lice at least once a week. This can be done with magnifying glasses, a proper head lice comb, or a hand-held zapper. It’s important that you check the hot spots where head lice commonly lay their eggs. This includes behind the ears, nape of the neck, and crown of the head.
- Be prepared with the right tools – should you discover head lice on your child, it’s important to know how to safely remove them. Many over the counter products no longer work because head lice have evolved becoming more resistant to pesticides. Having a good head lice comb is your best defense. Look for long metal grooved tines that pull the head lice and eggs from the hair shaft quickly and painlessly.
- Cleanse the environment – it’s important to give the areas your child has been in contact with a good clean. Vacuum carpets and upholstery, and use a Super Hero Spray Away environmental cleaner for jackets, back seats of cars, chairs, and sofas. You can toss bedding and pillows into a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes or more to dry out any rogue head lice. For items that can’t go in the dryer, place them into a garbage bag and keep it isolated for 48 hours to starve the head lice.
- Educate - The last tip is an important one. Talk to your daycare provider to find out what their protocol is for head lice and do your part by following their protocol so that if your child does get head lice, you can take the right steps to protect the other daycare staff and children from getting it too. If your child is old enough to understand, teach them about head lice and what they can do to prevent it. The best way to stop an infestation in its tracks, is to be proactive. Educate yourself, your daycare, and your children, to help prevent a small issue from becoming a big one.
Hopefully these tips are useful to you whether you are a parent, teacher or daycare provider. Remember that head lice have been around for centuries, they aren’t discriminating … as long as you’re human, you can get head lice! If you do get head lice there is nothing to be ashamed of. The key is to be proactive to help stop the life cycle and prevent it from happening in the future.
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