Sunday, January 29, 2017
For anyone with children, tackling head lice in your child’s hair is a likely occurrence, as these pesky lice are common in children. However, this doesn’t mean younger children or adults can’t get them either; it’s just that schools and nurseries are a perfect environment for lice to easily spread through head to head contact and they can spread rapidly. For this reason, they need to be treated quickly and effectively.
Despite common misconceptions, head lice aren’t fussy about where they reside, they just love all human hair whether it’s long, short, curly, straight, clean or dirty. You get head lice through direct head to head contact where the eggs either fall or lice crawl onto another person’s head – head lice can’t jump, fly or swim and can’t be caught from animals.
It’s also worth knowing that once they leave the scalp they have a short life span, living only 12-24 hours, so it isn’t likely that you’ll catch head lice from shared pillows, towels or hats.
Head lice are tiny insects that live in the hair and prolifically lay eggs on the scalp which hatch in about seven days. The first part of treatment is identifying lice in hair. A fully grown louse is a roughly the size of a sesame seed and whitish or grey-brown in colour, while the eggs are white and typically the size of a pin head, which makes both very hard to spot.
Head lice can spread quickly, so be sure to check everyone in the household for head lice with a head inspection and combing the hair through with a fine tooth comb or a special detection comb that can be purchased from pharmacies. If you find live lice in hair, you know you can begin treatment, but only apply head lice solutions to hair where you have seen a live louse.
Other signs of head lice include finding small white eggs or nits (egg cases) in the hair, typically behind the ears or at the base of the neck; itchy scalp; a rash at the base of the neck; and the feeling that something is moving in the scalp.
There are different ways you can treat head lice, the first is to use a detection comb as above, which can be used to comb out lice and eggs. This can be done on dry or wet hair, but the most effective method is on conditioned wet hair as this immobilises the head lice and makes combing through easier, picking up more eggs. This process will need repeating until all traces of lice have gone, so it can take some time to do it properly.
The other alternative is to use over-the-counter lotions or sprays that contain chemicals that kill head lice and eggs. These solutions are applied to the hair and scalp of any one with live lice and then rinsed out.
However, with the latter method it’s worth bearing in mind that a recent study by Southern Illinois University in the US, found that 98% of over-the-counter remedies were now ineffective. 104 out of 109 lice populations detected had genetically mutated to protect themselves against the common chemicals used in head lice treatments.
With head lice showing a significant resistance to modern treatments, this has led some to believe they’re becoming indestructible, which is true to some extent. Their ability to evolve and adapt to resist chemicals in modern pharmaceutical treatments does demonstrate their tenacious nature. But they aren’t immune to the traditional method of detection combing. Although it may take longer than a simple shampoo or spray, it may actually be more effective.
As part of the treatment for head lice it’s also important to consider prevention methods too. There’s nothing you can do to fully prevent head lice, but carrying out regular head checks with a detection comb will ensure any lice found in hair are detected early and can be treated right away. This in turn will not only reduce the unpleasantness of having head lice, but will also reduce the chances of it from spreading to other people.
Check out our range of head lice treatments here.