How to Prevent Head Lice

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Head lice are small parasites that live on human heads. They feed off tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice attach their eggs to individual hair shafts, where they can ride safely until it is time to hatch. Then they begin the growth cycle all over again. Removal is tedious and time consuming. Prevention is a much simpler process.


  1. Teach avoidance. Lice crawl and very slowly at that! They do not jump from one person to the next. Head-to-head contact is the quickest way to get head lice from an infected person. Kids hug. They lean in close to tell secrets. They put their heads together to have conversations in loud hallways and on noisy buses. The first step in prevention is teaching children to keep their heads away from other people. Lice cannot crawl from one head to the next if the heads never touch.

  2. Keep clothing separated. Head lice can survive away from a human host for a couple of days. Hats, scarves, jackets and earmuffs piled together on a bus seat can transmit lice from one child to the next. Jackets hanging together in a common public area or tossed into a pile on the playground give lice the opportunity to relocate. Tell your child to keep all outerwear away from 'community' piles.

  3. Understand some things are not for sharing. Hats, scarves, brushes and combs should never be shared. Children sometimes think it is safe if they only share these items with a 'best' friend. They must be taught lice are not particular about relationships.

  4. Take precautions at sleepovers. Children must each use their own sleeping bag and pillow. Lice can often be found in an infected child's bed. Two heads sharing a pillow can be a prime opportunity for lice to travel. When your child returns from a sleepover, place the sleeping bag and pillow into the dryer for at least 30 minutes. If a stray louse has climbed aboard, the heat will kill it.

  5. Create your own lice-busting spray! Buy tea tree oil, an essential oil commonly found in pharmacies. Add ten drops for every two ounces of water in a spray bottle. Spray liberally on your child's head daily. Hats and other outerwear can also be sprayed as well as bedding, furniture and car upholstery. Head lice are highly offended by tea tree oil, and it makes an excellent preventative. If the medicinal smell bothers your child, put in a few drops of lavender or cinnamon oil. In addition, add ten drops of tea tree oil to every bottle of shampoo, conditioner and hair spray in the bathroom. Shake well before using.

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