Kid’s Health

Nits and Head Lice

At this time of year, nits and head lice start to appear again. They are the bane of mums of school age children. A good hard frost generally gets rid of head lice during the winter but during summer an epidemic usually spreads through kindies and schools everywhere.

The head louse is an insect which lives for about a month. It feeds on blood from your scalp so can’t live for long away from a head. They love children’s juicy skin but tend to reject adult scalps. Girls with long thick hair are most affected.

The louse lays about 6 eggs per day, so if it’s not treated it can very quickly get out of hand. I’ve seen girl’s heads thick with lice which appeared over a couple of weeks.

The eggs are laid onto a hair follicle usually near the root especially around the neck and ears. These can be seen as tiny white or brown blobs stuck to hairs. They don’t come off easily. After a few days the baby lice hatch and can be seen as tiny round lice with legs.

There are many commercial shampoos and treatments for head lice but the lice can become resistant to them and some may be toxic too. My best solution is to break the breeding cycle. This takes a bit of time  – about 1 week but it’s the most reliable treatment and can be used along with shampoos and lotions too. In fact, I find it’s the only reliable way to get rid of them.

1) Wash the hair and cover with plenty of conditioner. Leave conditioner on until next hair washing. This is very important as it will prevent newly laid eggs from attaching to the hairs. Unattached eggs will not hatch.

2) Cover the shoulders with a white sheet, so you can see any lice which fall off, especially the baby lice. If you use a towel, they may hide amongst the loops, so a sheet is best.

3) Comb through the hair with a nit comb. Divide the hair into sections and comb through the whole hair with a nit comb until you are sure no adult lice or baby lice are left. This may take ½ to 1 hour but this is the key to getting rid of adult lice and stopping them laying more eggs. It also removes baby lice that quickly grow into adults and start breeding. Baby lice are more circular like tiny spiders.

4) Repeat this every day for 1 week. By the end of the week, all adult lice should be gone and no new baby lice should be hatching. If you see baby lice you need to keep going for another week.

5) Continue to comb hair with a nit comb every couple of days to check for adults and babies.

This method rarely fails because it’s based on the life cycle of the louse and doesn’t rely on chemicals.

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