Back to school, holidays and summer camp unfortunately signal lice season! This is when the dreaded letter from the school nurse comes home reporting an outbreak of head lice. Most parents panic but lice expert, Risa Barash, offers tips to help prevent and treat head lice.

Contributed by Risa Barash

Know the facts of lice

The adult louse can live up to 30 days on the human head and a female can lay up to 100 eggs in her lifetime.

By the time a parent finds a louse, it has matured and started laying eggs. An egg/nit is smaller than a pinhead and is stuck 1/2-1/4 inch from the top of the head. A nit takes 7-10 days to hatch. After seven days, the nit is now called a nymph and starts to feed. The nymph takes 7-10 days to develop into a full-grown louse. Nymphs are smaller and don't lay eggs. The adult louse can live up to 30 days on the human head and a female can lay up to 100 eggs in her lifetime. Lice crawl — they do not fly, jump or hop.

lice collage size comparisons and growth chartPhotos courtesy of Fairy Tales Hair Care

Teach your children not to share personal items

Lice are spread thru head to head contact. Children share things like hats, headbands, hair ties, head phones and helmets, which are a no-no when it comes to preventing head lice. Be sure that your child brings his/her own pillow to sleepovers and uses their own helmet in sports. If possible, try and keep coats, hats, etc. in separate bags at school. Watch out for princess parties as costumes and tiaras can harbor lice for up to a full day.

Perform weekly head checks

If your child is exposed to head lice, it is best to catch it in the early stages. This can be done by doing a head check each week. Check the hot spots, which are behind the ears, the back of the neck and the part lines. Use this time to talk with your child — ask questions, play games, etc. Make it part of your routine and have some bonding time!

Use natural hair care products that repel lice

Clinical studies have shown that natural herbs such as rosemary, citronella, tea tree and peppermint work as a repellant against lice.

Clinical studies have shown that natural herbs such as rosemary, citronella, tea tree and peppermint work as a repellant against lice. These fragrant herbs clean and condition the hair and smell great to us, but lice don't like the scent.

Don't panic if you find lice

Keep calm and put down the scissors! Pour yourself a glass of wine and educate yourself on head lice. You don't want to scare your child. New treatment options are available that are chemical and pesticide free. Speak to your school nurse. Communication is key to keeping outbreaks to a minimum.

fairytales founder and products

Recently seen on CBS' The Doctors, Risa Barash, owner of Fairy Tales Hair Care, makers of Rosemary Repel products, is an expert at keeping families free of lice with all natural products and easy, relatable tips. For more information visit Fairy Tales Hair Care.

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