Head lice – a back to school delight!

head lice

Head lice

Now that we’re well and truly back to school head lice is starting to make an appearance again.  It’s a good idea to check your children’s heads regularly particularly if they are scratching their scalp.  The itching can occur due to irritation from lice saliva! This itching can persist for weeks after lice are killed so just because the scalp is still itchy it doesn’t mean lice are still present.

Adult lice (the ones that lay the eggs) are quite small at about 3mm in size and are a grey/white colour.  They can be difficult to spot in fair hair.  They can live for about 1-2 days away from human contact.  Eggs are usually laid close to the scalp and can sometimes be confused for dandruff or dry skin.  If they are difficult to pull off this may be a sign that they are eggs.

Treatment should occur in anyone who has live lice.  Treatment can occur in two ways; medical and non-medical.

 

Medical treatment of head lice

Treatment lotions and shampoos are chemical based or non-chemical based.  The chemical ones such as KP-24, Quellada and Banlice kill the lice by poisoning them.  The non-chemical treatments kill the lice by physically coating them and suffocating them.  Examples of non-chemical treatments are Moov, Neutralice, Hedrin and Full Marks.

The most important part of using the medical treatment is to repeat the treatment process 7 days after the first treatment.  This is because any lice that may have hatched since the first treatment need to be killed before they lay eggs themselves.

 

Non-medical treatment of head lice

This treatment option involves either covering the hair with conditioner and then combing and removing eggs with your fingernails or using an electronic comb to electrocute the lice.

These options should be performed every 2 days for about 2 weeks to ensure no eggs are missed and then hatch.

 

Head lice treatment tips

I find that it’s a good idea to combine these techniques and do the combing and fingernail removal of eggs each night for the week between the medical treatments.

I also found it helpful to straighten my daughter’s hair a couple of nights after treatment as this loosened the glue on any remaining eggs so that they were killed and came off the hair easily.

Wash hair brushes and pillowcases in hot water and leave to dry in the sun or dryer to prevent reinfestation.

It is not necessary for children to be absent from child care or school after their first treatment.

Hair should be tied back or in a plait if hair is long to minimise lice transmission.  Remind children not to share hair brushes and to wear their own hat.

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