This very question is one that I have heard so many times in the past couple of weeks since we have returned to school after winter vacation. Along with the start of a New Year and great winter vacations had by all, many people have been faced with some other new “obstacles” they may not have been prepared for. The obstacle most disturbing to families is that famous four letter word–LICE.

Day after day, my phone rings and I hear the same remark. I hear frantic moms saying, “Help-there is a lice outbreak in my child’s school. My child has been sent home from school. I need help and don’t know what I am supposed to do and the school does not seem to be doing anything about the situation”.

Every day, I hear the same story and same outcome. Families try to treat their children with the over the counter products that they are told to use and they are frustrated. Frustrated, because they are still finding live lice in their children’s heads. Frustrated, because other children are returning to school with nits in their hair and lice in their hair and parents are not communicating with one another regarding who has lice.

I can not stress how important enough communication is in the attempt to end an outbreak. If your child is diagnosed with lice, it is so important that you let others know that he/she has it so that they can check their own children on a regular basis. By checking on a regular basis, you will be able to catch an infestation before it ever gets to the point where it is out of control. By letting the school know as well, they can keep track of how many kids in the class have had it and keep the communication open.

Within the classroom setting, the stuffed animals should be bagged and removed during an outbreak and the carpets should be vacuumed and rolled back. The dress-up clothing and hats, if any, should also be washed and removed. If you do not see this being done, speak up, and remind the staff. This will only help the situation.

Winter time also means more clothing. There are jackets and hats and scarves. All of these are in close contact with each other and are often touching when hung up on the coat racks in the cubbies. Another suggestion during an outbreak is that each child be given a plastic garbage bag to place their backpack and jacket and belongings in. This way, if there is any active live lice, they will not have the opportunity to crawl from one coat or backpack to another and be brought from one house to another.

If you have younger children in preschools or day care settings when an outbreak is present, extra sets of clothing should be placed in ziploc bags in cubbies and the blankets or mats used for rest time should be cleaned and sent home to be washed.

All of these measures can be taken to try to minimize the outbreak in the school. If everyone takes their part and communication lines remain open, hopefully the lice outbreak will be a short lived one. The one thing we can remember is that lice do not carry disease and are not harmful. They are just pesky little critters that love “clean” hair and wind up becoming the guests that truly outstay their welcome.

And remember, when in doubt, or if you have questions, the Potomac Lice Lady is always available. Remember, don’t let lice ruin your life!

All the best,

Lauren Salzberg

Potomac Lice Lady