Dealing with head lice in your children

We all dread the note home from school letting us know there is an outbreak of head lice. Most families will experience head lice or nits at some time during primary school. And unfortunately with the rise of mobile device ownership among teens, who can’t resist getting all their friends in for a selfie, head lice infestation is on the rise amongst older children too.

A few facts about head lice/nits

It is a common misconception that head lice can hop, fly or jump, they can’t! They have six legs and no wings so can only crawl.

Nits (lice eggs ) are held in place on the hair shaft with a glue like substance and cannot fall off onto another person’s head.

They can only live on the hair shaft/warm scalp and are ONLY transferred, by head to head contact. When hair comes into contact with already infected hair they simply crawl from one hair strand to the next regardless of whose head they are on.

It does not matter what hair colour or type you have or how clean your hair is. Lice just want warmth.

You cannot get or give your pets lice!

Tips to prevent head lice

When your child starts nursery or school, explain to them the importance of trying not to touch heads with other children and never to share hats, hairbrushes, combs etc. And for teens, be aware when taking selfies with their friends.

Tying up long hair reduces the area that can come into contact with infected hair. Braids or a bun is best but a ponytail is good too. There is a current trend for wide headbands which will cover the scalp and reduce the area head lice have to get at.

Peek once a week is my motto. Invest in a head lice comb and use it to comb through damp hair in sections. You are looking out for an itchy head, small rash behind the ears or at the nape of the neck, white/caramel coloured flecks in the hair, that will not move easily or a louse crawling through the hair.

If you think your child may have head lice, add conditioner to wet hair and comb through with the nit comb, wiping it every few brushes on a white paper towel. If you see little brown/black dots it could indicate the presence of head lice.

Tea Tree has been recommended to me by other parents. Either dabbing some behind the ears or added to water and spritzing hair before nursery or school. Or adding to regular shampoo. Tea Tree can be drying so only use as directed on the bottle.

If the dreaded happens and you find nits in your child’s hair don’t panic. Treat with off the shelf or natural products and continue to use the nit comb on a daily basis. Combing really does work.

For other tips on dealing with head lice and for hairstyles that help prevent head lice check out www.mykidstime.com

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