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Parental guidance: Ideas for preventing head lice

Chris Bonanno, left, a co-owner of Fairy Lice

Chris Bonanno, left, a co-owner of Fairy Lice Mothers in Oceanside carefully performs a recheck for head lice on Kevin Ourvan, 6, of Manhattan. (Sept. 24, 2009) Credit: Newsday/Ken Sawchuk

Q. My daughter is in kindergarten, and I heard that in one of the classes in her school a case of head lice has been reported. Friends say that putting gel or hair spray in hair helps prevent lice. Is this true? Can you suggest some other prevention techniques?

A. "There's no foolproof, 100- percent way to prevent lice," says Christine Bonanno, president of Fairy LiceMothers, an Oceanside business that treats lice cases. However, you can take these steps and cross your fingers, Bonanno says:

Pull her hair into a ponytail, braid or bun. Hair is the bridge lice use to crawl from head to head. The less hair flying around, the less access lice have.

Lice like clean hair, so spraying with hair spray or putting in gel can help boys and girls.

Lice find certain scents offensive, including peppermint, coconut, rosemary and lavender. "The kids like them, the bugs don't like them," Bonanno says. Various retailers, including the fairylice website, sell lice repellents.

Make sure your child's coat isn't hung where it comes into contact with other children's. If it is, send her to school with a plastic trash bag to keep her coat inside during the day.

Remind her not to share hair brushes and accessories.

The best thing you can do is comb your child's hair twice a week with a nit comb, available at drugstores. These specially designed combs will pull out any nits or bugs early and let you know if your child is developing a problem that needs treatment.

Send your parental guidance questions to or follow her on Twitter @bethwhitehouse1.

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