For Many, Lice Are a Part of Teaching. How to Deal

What to do when the creepy-crawlies strike.

Teacher Tips for Dealing With Lice

Lice—the mere mention of the word makes most teachers’ skin crawl! Unfortunately, lice happen (and contrary to popular myth, it has nothing to do with personal hygiene). So what to do, in this season of giving, if you’re stuck with the creepy-crawlies in your room? Once again, we reached out to the experts in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Keep your hair out of reach or covered.

Mindy J. and Kelly M. recommend keeping your “hair in a tight bun and us[ing] LOTS and LOTS of hairspray.”  If you have short hair, you may want to suspend the no hats in school rule and keep your lids (stylishly) covered.

2. Use natural remedies.

Apparently lice LOVE clean hair. One solution is to grease your hair. Lots of teachers recommended using tea tree oil or coconut oil. Teacher Tiara F. suggests adding a few drops of peppermint oil or rosemary oil to your hairbrush in the morning. 

3. Try these brands.

Laina L. suggests Suave Rosemary & Mint Invigorating Shampoo & Conditioner. Chantel S. tried Melaleuca. Stephanie B. had good luck with Herbal Essences: “It made my hair too slick for lice to stick to.” A few teachers also recommended Fairy Tales shampoo sold on Amazon.

4. Ditch the softies.

We love for our kids to have a soft cozy place to snuggle up, especially at reading time, but unfortunately these are the perfect breeding ground for lice to lay their eggs. “Get rid of soft seating, pillows, rugs, stuffed animals, blankets, etc.,” recommends teacher Ann B. 

5. Use plastic bags.

“Whenever we have an outbreak of lice in the classroom, I have kids put all coats and book bags into tall garbage bags with tie handles the minute they walk in,” advises Melinda P. Kristen P. echoes, “Keep all belongings in plastic bags and hang them from hooks so kids’ things don’t touch.”

6. Expose lice to extreme temperatures.

“Lice cannot tolerate cold, so put anything in your room that fits into garbage bags and put them outside (if it’s cold enough in your area) and leave them there for 48 hours.” advises Cathey S. On the other end of the thermometer, Kathryn S. suggests, “Put your coat in the dryer on high for 20 minutes after you get home. That way you won’t bring any lice into the house.” Debbie C. adds, “Lice do not like the heat from a hair dryer, so blow dry your hair every day.”

7. Discourage sharing, for the time being.

We work so hard to build a close community in our classrooms, but in some cases, it’s best to maintain a little distance. Laurie A. says, “Avoid sharing head phones. My kids use personal headphones or earbuds, and it has cut down on any outbreaks in our room. It’s been a few years since I’ve had anyone with it (knock on wood).” If you have a supply of dress-up clothes, put them away until the outbreak is over. And even though we love how affectionate our kids can be, Morgan L. suggests inventing “a cool handshake so no one tries to hug.” 

8. Enlist help.

Teacher Sarah H. asked the custodians in her building to change out their vacuum bags daily. If your cleaning staff does not vacuum daily, you may have to bring one from home and do it yourself for a short while.

What other lice remedies would you add to the list? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, ways to clean dirty desks.

For Many, Lice Are a Part of Teaching. How to Deal

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

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