Head lice are very common in young children and are usually picked up from head-to-head contact.
They can be difficult to spot, but when you do see them, they appear as grey-brown insects about the size of a sesame seed.
Head lice eggs can also indicate an infestation – these appear yellow, brown or white and are often empty shells attached to the hair.
So how can you spot head lice, what’s the right treatment and how can you make sure to get rid of them for good?
Head lice expert Ian Burgess has revealed the nitty gritty on why children may experience head lice for over a month.
Does your child definitely have head lice?
It is important to remember that an itchy scalp is not always a sign of head lice. Make sure you check the hair thoroughly as specks of dandruff or dirt can sometimes be mistaken for an active infestation.
Make sure you look closely at the hair to detect tiny eggs attached to individual hair strands. They may be dead or hatched eggs from an old infection and will remain attached to the hair unless physically removed. The creamy-yellowish eggs are laid close to the scalp and blend in, but after hatching they appear white making them more prominent as the hair grows out, so if a child has had head lice in the past the dead eggs can be mistaken for a return of a head lice infestation.
You should only use a head lice treatment once you have combed the hair from scalp to tip and found the six-legged, wingless insects.
Are you using the right treatment?
Some parents have been known to use mayonnaise, olive oil, raw eggs and vinegar to get rid of head lice, but there is no evidence to show that these remedies work to eradicate lice. There is a huge amount of incorrect head lice information online which gives worried parents misplaced confidence in ineffective methods. When they follow this advice, head lice are allowed to spread further and quicker.
The key to killing lice and to truly eliminate an infestation is to use a clinically proven non-pesticide treatment or protection spray, carefully following the instructions and repeating a week later if instructed. It is then vital to check the hair every week for signs of re-infestations.
Ensure you choose a non-pesticide treatment which will work by smothering the lice and either stripping them of their waxy coating, causing them to dehydrate, or disrupting their ability to manage water.
Try a treatment containing dimeticone or octanediol as they work physically to kill lice that come into contact with them when the hair is saturated with product. Because they don’t rely on poisoning to work this means that there is theoretically no chance for the head lice to build up a resistance. If you are unsure about treatment options, speak to your pharmacist.
Are you using enough treatment and applying it correctly?
There are various head lice treatments on the market today, with different methods of use, which can become confusing if you are trying out a new treatment. Ensure you read the instructions carefully as each product is different.
One of the common reasons why head lice survive after treatment is because the product has not been used and applied in a correct manner. Always remember to read the packaging and follow the instructions carefully.
When you use treatment do you remember to:
Apply it all over? It is important to apply the right amount of treatment straight onto hair, ensuring you cover the whole head and full length of hair.
Work it in? A good tip is to use a comb or fingers to ensure the hair is covered from root to tip. The hair must be fully saturated with product to ensure every louse is smothered.
Leave it? One of the most important and crucial tips to follow when using treatment is to leave it in the hair for the recommended amount of time.
Wash out? Some treatments require you to wash hair as normal, but some require you to apply shampoo before wetting.
Repeat? Some treatments require you to repeat the same process several days later, so even if you believe the infestation has gone after the first treatment, this step must be completed.
Mr Burgess added: “It’s important for parents to treat head lice as soon as you find them in your child’s hair to prevent the infestation from developing. Try Hedrin Once, a quick and effective 15-minute treatment that significantly shortens the treating time for parents and children.
“A head lice infestation can spread rapidly, making it important for parents to work proactively with their child’s school to avoid re-infestations. Regular hair inspections and use of clinically proven preventive treatments is the best way to keep bugs at bay, remember Once A Week, Take A Peek.”
Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that causes red sores. Anyone can get it, but it can also be the result of a head lice infestation. Using this treatment method for nits can reduce the chance of an impetigo rash and banish head lice and eggs at the same time.