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Though there is no sure way to prevent a child from getting lice at school, there are a few things that can help keep lice from spreading from one child to another. Depending on how young they are, teaching children about lice and how they are spread is one way to help keep a child from getting lice at school. Children should be taught that sharing anything that comes into contact with the hair can be a way for lice to spread, as can touching heads with other children at school. Tea tree oil can be used to dissuade lice from traveling onto a child's head, though it is not 100% effective. If a child does become infested with lice, proper treatment can help ensure that the lice are not transmitted to another child at school.
The best way to prevent a child from getting lice at school is to teach the child how lice spread from one host to another. As a wingless insect that cannot jump long distances the way a flea can, a louse must crawl from one host to another. Kids who understand how lice are transmitted can keep themselves safe from infestation by avoiding situations in which their heads touch. In the same way, children who learn about the transmission of lice can choose not to share things like hats or hairbrushes on which lice might be present.
Teachers and parents can also help prevent the spread of lice at school by insisting that children follow good sanitary practices. Personal items, such as jackets, hats, and scarves, should be kept separate so that lice cannot crawl from one article of clothing to another. Carpets and common areas that kids lie on should be cleaned regularly, especially if there has been a known case of lice in the school recently. Requiring that children who have lice stay home from school until treatment is complete will help keep the insects from moving to another child.
Tea tree oil can be used to prevent the spread of lice at school. Though this oil can be used as a treatment, it is far more effective as a preventative measure because the odor of the oil is repulsive to lice. The insects may choose not to crawl to children with this oil in their hair. Mixing a few drops with shampoo is the best way to apply tea tree oil to the hair.
@indigomoth - That said, don't just look at the children. Make sure you keep adults in mind as well. Teachers, parents, older siblings, all of them are vectors for head lice.
Siblings are probably the most likely, in fact, since they probably think nothing of sharing their hats and brushes with their brothers and sisters.
I would also be very careful with my treatment for the lice.
They can become immune to treatments if they are used incorrectly, so be careful and do it right the first time.
@croydon - Well, if your children prefer long hair you can still reduce the chances of them getting head lice at school by tying it up tightly.
In fact, I've heard that tightly braided hair is less likely to get lice than loose, short hair, because the lice find it more difficult to climb in to the scalp.
And, if you coil the hair around the head, it might as well be short so it's the best of both worlds.
I would also suggest that you make sure you remember that your kids might be playing with children from other schools, perhaps in their neighborhood, or in after school classes.
Make sure your school policy for head lice includes insisting that all the parents inform any other parents their kids come into contact with.
As you say, it only takes one to reinfect everyone else.
If at all possible you should also try to keep your children's hair short.
I know they might not want it short and I don't think you should force them to cut it if they don't want to, but generally the shorter it is the less likely it's going to come into contact with an area that is infested with lice, whether that's another child's head, or an article of clothing, or whatever.
Head lice in school are an awful nuisance and can be quite difficult to get rid of, particularly since all the parents of infected children need to coordinate their efforts.
If even one kid manages to remain infested he'll quickly infect the others again.
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