The thing that many mothers dread when their kids go to school is the illnesses they can pick up, and the day your child comes home with lice. Now, that doesn’t mean your child has dirty hair, in fact lice enjoy well groomed and clean hair or scalps rather. Unfortunately they are very hard to get rid of.
The louse, singular is a small parasitic insect that has no wings. They like to live in amongst our hair and feed off small amounts of blood that is taken from the scalp. Lice can become a problem anywhere, especially when there are many people working or playing close together, such as at schools.
Once the problem has been detected, it is always a good idea to act fast. The eggs of a louse are known as nits, and can take up to 7 to 10 days to hatch and then a further 12 days to mature into an adult. The next step is for them to mate and then lay their eggs again and again, and again. If the lice do not have any blood supply, say they fall off onto clothes, linen etc., they will die within two days.
Many people also think that lice can jump, which in actual fact is not true. They cannot fly or jump and only spread with close or direct contact. They are very contagious and can easily spread from one child’s head to another. So now that we know a little more about lice, how does one go about treating the problem. Do you wash your hair with prescribed chemicals or go the more natural way?
Treating Lice in Children
Treating lice does not have to go the chemical way, but if you do, always ask your pharmacist for the best and safest option for your child. They have the best knowledge on all medications. Prevention is always better than cure, so putting in place certain precautionary measures might save you a lot of hassle in the long term.
How to avoid Lice:
The most important thing to do if you apply treatments, is to make sure that you repeat the treatment about two weeks to one month after the initial dose. This is to ensure you get all those nits that may have survived the first round of treatments.
As I mentioned before, sometimes the more harsh chemical treatments can be abrasive. You as a parent can take preventative measures, this involves regularly checking your child’s hair and scalp.
Head Lice, What to look for?
The annoying parasites look like small yellowish or brown specks before they hatch from their eggs. The eggs are laid close to the scalp on the hair shafts. The adult louse is the size of a sesame seed and can be tan or off white in colour. By using a comb and parting sections of hair, or checking behind the ears regularly, you may be able to pick up on a problem sooner.
What should you do if you find head lice?
You can find the best treatment for your child and use it as soon as possible. Consider applying treatments to all family members as well. You should inform the school if your child has lice, so that an alert can be sent out to other parents, so everybody can then treat their children. This will help to prevent it from spreading and becoming a major problem.
Types of Lice Treatments
Your doctor may prescribe medicated shampoos that are available, a lotion or hair rinse. You can also get over the counter medications for the problem, but again always ask the pharmacists for their advice. Sometimes, if the problem persists, an oral medication may be prescribed. Today the lice also seem to be more resistant to the medicated products,
Treatment the old fashioned way
Sometimes for younger kids, you will have to remove the lice and nits by hand as the products would be harmful to the child. Even if you use products, you will have to check and remove nits by hand anyway. This may be torture to both parent and child, but many schools won’t allow you to come back unless the scalp and hair has been declared clear.
The best way to remove nits and lice by hand, is to take a fine tooth comb and run it through conditioned wet hair. Wetting the hair seems to momentarily stun the lice, while the conditioner just helps to make the comb run through the hair much more easily. You can also use olive or coconut oil as the conditioner. You will just need to rinse out the hair a few more times.
Natural remedies for treating lice
There are natural remedies from applying mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, tea tree oil, salt, apple cider vinegar and oil.
Here are some more natural lice remedies:
Many natural products can be purchased from outlets like Wellness Warehouse and Faithful to Nature. There are even more unique products on the market, such a the preventative ‘Lice Ban’, a hair band that has been infused with essential oils that kids with long hair can wear.
You can get them here: Lice Ban Elastics – https://www.facebook.com/LiceBan.SA/