NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Sleep, food and bugs may not seem related, but they all important to keep in mind for healthy kids heading back to school.

Sleep and food are important if your child is going to perform at his or her best, but the ick factor cannot be ignored: Every year itchy head lice spreads like crazy when kids go back to school, reports Dr. Max Gomez.

Keeping Up On Lice

They’re tiny and they love to live in people’s hair. They bite the scalp to get a meal of your blood. They crawl up on a hair shaft to lay their eggs, called nits.

Adie Horowitz of Lice Enders and Lice Clinics of America says the tell-tale sign your child has lice is scratching.

“This is not about dirty hair or hygiene,” said Horowitz. “In fact, lice prefer nice clean hair because they can stick their nits on them much easier.”

She says lice have become resistant to most of the chemical insecticides used to kill them.

Instead of medicines, get a very fine tooth metal lice comb and, every few days, coat the child’s head with a silky conditioner. Comb through every bit of hair until you don’t find any more nits. A

For an alternative hack, use olive oil.

For lice prevention, follow these three steps:

  1. Avoid head to head contact.
  2. Don’t share combs, brushes, hats, caps, towels or headbands.
  3. Keep belongings away from shared areas like coat closets or cubbies.

Keeping Up On Food

As for nutrition, don’t let your child skip breakfast. He or she has been sleeping for eight to 10 hours, and they need fuel to perform well in school. A sugar-laden cereal will just lead to a sugar crash right during class.

“Give them something with protein and a complex carbohydrate like yogurt with fruit, a scrambled egg, oatmeal with peanut butter,” said Sharon Zarabi, a registered nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Use the same principle if you pack their lunch, protein and complex carbs like a turkey on whole wheat or peanut butter and jelly.

Avoid salty, fatty snacks like chips. For desert, fruit is great, but if they want a treat – just one cookie.

Keeping Up On Sleep

You have to start getting your kids to bed at their normal school bed-time right now.

Make it a little earlier each night for a week, and then start waking them up a little earlier each day until they’re back on their school year schedule.

If you start that process now, that first day of school will be a lot less painful.