Treating the home after discovering that a household member has head lice does not have to be stressful. Lice do not like to climb off heads and are built to stay close to head under all conditions even underwater, and they do not survive once off the head for very long. Eggs off of a head die within an hour or so without the warmth of incubation at body temperature, so are not really a threat. Newly hatched bugs must eat a blood meal in the first 2 hours or they die immediately. Adult bugs start to die after 12 hours without meals but can still lay eggs. All lice die within 24 to 36 hours of being away from a food source. At 12 to 18 hours off a head, they are so sick and weak they can hardly move.
Do not go over board with cleaning. Change bedding of those affected or in beds in which they have slept. Wash sheets, clothes and PJs in hot water, or dry blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or comforters in a dryer for only 20-30 minutes on it’s hottest setting. If you cannot do either of these two things then place items in a closed bag for up to 48 hours, longer is not necessary. Brushes combs and hair accessories can be treated in this manner as well. If their head has not been in contact with an item in the past 48 hours do not worry about it. Vacuum or sweep around the bed in which they have slept in the past 48 hours. Throw a sheet or towels over couches, upholstered furniture and car seats for 48 hours after the initial treatment. We recommend that all household members have their own combs and brushes that are kept separate from each other.
Most importantly, communicate! Send emails and call those whom you’ve been with in the last 48 hours to explain the situation.