How to deal with head lice as a teacher
One of the common things you’ll hear about what causes head lice is that it only affects children. Usually, lice are seen as a problem for kids and perceived as not really affecting adults in any large capacity. There is some truth to this, but it’s not entirely correct. While head lice are more common in kids than adults, adults can still get them. Head lice and nits can be bothersome and frustrating for both children and adults, so it’s crucial to understand the root causes of lice and how to prevent head lice.
As a teacher, you’ll need to be extra-careful about head lice in adults, as you will be in close proximity with children who might have lice. You may not even realize you are experiencing the early stages of head lice until you feel a tell-tale itchy feeling on your scalp.
Kids’ lice need to be monitored at all times so you can ensure that you are taking appropriate measures for the classroom. Understanding what causes head lice, how to prevent it, and treatments for lice is vital to keep kids and teachers lice-free.
Understanding what causes head lice
Teachers are just as susceptible to lice as students, so it’s important to be vigilant. If there is an occurrence of lice in your classroom, don’t panic! Lice are not disease carriers, so there is a lowered risk involved. Teachers may end up experiencing head lice as adults, but with careful preventative measures, this can be avoided.
So, how do you get lice? Teachers are more likely to get lice if they do not understand what causes lice. Essentially, lice can occur from close head-to-head contact with another person with lice in this context. Head lice can also arise from sharing items that touch the head, such as hats, scrunchies, and hair ties.
Teachers are particularly at risk for head lice if they teach younger children, so it’s important to exercise caution when in school by trying not to share these types of items with one another.
Lice and nits spread quickly, but remember that lice cannot survive off the human scalp. Once removed, they cannot seek out nourishment and will die within 2-5 days. Nits, however, pose a more significant risk as lice hatch quickly and will cause further spread.
There is another persistent myth that lice prefer ‘dirty’ hair over clean hair. This is unsubstantiated. Lice do not discriminate and can affect anyone. The fact is that in most cases lice have been found on clean hair more often as it’s easier to adhere to.
Lice are also not able to fly, so there’s no worry there. Lice are fast crawlers, and they lay eggs at rapid speeds, so they are often hard to spot and take out in hair, notably in darker hair.
Common symptoms and the stages of head lice include:
- Frequent itching around the scalp and neck
- Nits firmly attached to hair, usually near the hair shaft.
- Potential rashes or sores around affected areas
How to prevent head lice
Classrooms often have little space and are cramped, so teachers may end up getting head lice more often. Creating space and distance amongst students reduces the chances of kids getting lice and keeps teachers safe. If this is not possible, reduce opportunities for close head-to-head contact as much as possible to prevent lice and nits. Additionally, teachers should keep their hair out of reach and covered to prevent head lice in adults.
Discourage children from sharing items that touch heads, such as scrunchies, hair ties, hats, and other items. It’s hard to control spreads if items are being continuously shared amongst children. Still, gentle and consistent discouragement against sharing certain kinds of items will help you prevent lice in the long-term for adults.
It’s also important to check your hair often to ensure that you do not have head lice or nits. It’s essential to keep an eye on your hair and catch nits before they hatch. The earlier you catch lice, the better.
If there is an occurrence of kids head lice, take immediate action. You can ask children to put away hats, scarves, and bags into plastic bags to prevent further spread and place items far away from each other.
Head lice and nits can be bothersome and frustrating for both children and adults, so it’s crucial to understand the root causes and how it may be prevented.
How to treat head lice in adults
If you’re not sure how you treat head lice as an adult or how to manage the different stages of lice, don’t worry! There are many different methods out there that can help teachers deal with lice and nits. Although stubborn and contagious, they do not pose a severe health threat, so they are relatively easy to treat.
- Natural remedies
- Lice shampoos, over-the-counter or prescription-based
- Electric hair lice removal
When searching for remedies to deal with lice as an adult, it’s essential to look for options that will eliminate lice and nits. Most solutions are targeted only towards lice, not nits, but this ends up being problematic. If nits are not removed, new eggs will hatch, and the lice problem will continue.
Natural remedies for lice include tea tree oil or coconut oil on your hair. This makes it easier to remove head lice in adults as it makes the hair slippery for the lice to cling on to. While helpful, natural remedies alone may not work effectively on their own.
These are usually chemical shampoos designed to kill lice and can be found as a prescription option and over-the-counter. Lice shampoos are not as effective as other remedies. Lice have become resistant to the active chemicals in these shampoos, so it usually has little effect. Even if the shampoo can eliminate lice, it will not remove nits.
Electric hair lice removal
Electric hair lice removal products such as those offered by Novokid uses a device to remove lice and nits in under ten minutes using natural and plant-based remedies such as rosemary oil. The device is a simple and painless way to remove head lice in adults effectively.
Kids’ head lice can be tricky for teachers, but it’s not impossible with some simple adjustments. Once you have a better understanding of what causes head lice and preventative measures that may taken, you can begin to make changes to your classroom to ensure no stages occur amongst children. Reducing head-to-head contact and discouraging sharing items such as hats, hairbrushes, scrunchies, and hair ties is incredibly important to prevent lice for both children and adults.
Remember, even if there are kids with lice in your classroom, keep calm. Lice are not necessarily harmful, but it is painful and annoying. The itching is challenging for both children and adults to manage as the head lice stages go on, but it’s essential to keep your cool. Create a back-up seating plan if you and students need to increase social distancing. Use garbage bags to separate items that could potentially help spread lice and keep them away from the rest of the room.
Jennifer Andreoli is a New York Times bestselling author. She was born and raised in the Bronx and was a bookseller before shifting to children’s publishing and copywriting. She’s worked at a literary development company and a creative writing website for teens and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. She loves long walks on the beach and traveling to exotic locales and lives in Los Angeles. When she isn’t reading or writing great stories, she’s probably singing or watching racy shows on Netflix.