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The following is from the Centers for Disease Control Website www.cdc.gov:
Prevention & Control
Head lice are spread most commonly by direct head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact.
However, much less frequently they are spread by sharing clothing or belongings onto which lice have crawled or nits attached to shed hairs may have fallen.
The risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a carpet or furniture is very small.
Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the scalp.
The following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control the spread of head lice:
· Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
· Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
· Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
· Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
· Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
· Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
· Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
To help control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp, children can be taught to avoid activities that may spread head lice.
Additional information from the CDC Website:
· Retreatment of head lice usually is recommended because no approved pediculicide is completely ovicidal.
· To be most effective, retreatment should occur after all eggs have hatched but before before new eggs are produced. The retreatment schedule can vary depending on the pediculicide used.
· Removal of all nits after successful treatment with a pediculicide is not necessary to prevent further spread.
· Removal of nits after treatment with a pediculicide may be done for aesthetic reasons, or to reduce diagnostic confusion and the chance of unnecessary retreatment.
· Because pediculicides are not 100% ovicidal (i.e. do not kill all the egg stages), some experts recommend the manual removal of nits that are attached within ¼ inch of the base of the hair shaft.