Head lice are small insects, up to 3mm long, and can be difficult to spot in hair. But having head lice can make your head feel itchy and like there’s something moving in your hair, which can prove extremely unpleasant. There’s nothing you can do to prevent head lice so knowing what to look for and how to treat them is key.
Ian Burgess, head lice expert, explained: “Those who may usually be at risk but without a current outbreak of lice were protected during lockdown, but for those who struggle with regular infestations and find it hard to eradicate the problem, it is likely that those children will continue in the same way and may exacerbate outbreaks.”
Burgess added: “Regular head-to-head contact makes them easy to pass on when children meet their friends again.
“I know parents will likely have so many things on their minds at the moment, perhaps more than the usual back to school period, but I would recommend being prepared before school starts so at the first sign of lice, it can be nipped in the bud with effective treatment.”
The best way to stop infestation is for families to check regularly, and then, if they are found, to use a treatment that lice cannot build up a resistance to such as Hedrin All In One Shampoo, according to Burgess.
He also recommends parents have a look at ‘Once a Week, Take a Peek’ which encourages families to check regularly.
The website has all the information needed to identify and deal with head lice effectively.
When it comes to applying treatment, it lists five simple steps to follow:
1. Treatment should only be applied if a living, moving louse has been found – never ‘just in case’
2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure the treatment is left on for the recommended time
3. When applying treatment, cover the full length of the hair if specified in the treatment instructions
4. Keep the lotion out of the eyes and off the face – don’t use a hair dryer and keep away from flames, stoves, cigarettes and other sources of heat
5. Most treatments require them to be repeated seven days after the first application to kill any nymphs which have hatched since the first treatment was applied. The checking process should be repeated a couple of days after treatment to ensure that all the head lice have been killed.
Why are children more prone to getting lice?
Children are more prone, as they are regularly in close contact with each other.
Burgess explained: “Children aged 4 to 11 are most at risk but no one is immune. Girls tend to be more likely to get lice as they tend to play more closely together with greater head-to-head contact than boys.
“But there are still certainly plenty of boys and men with lice.”
What are the symptoms and how can you check for nits?
Although the best known symptom is the itching, only about 30 percent of people itch when they have lice, according to Burgess.
He revealed: “The only true way of knowing is by conducting regular checks with a head lice detection comb.
“Head lice can be uncomfortable, prevent sleep and concentration, and can carry a stigma.”
What’s the best way to monitor head lice in children?
Burgess recommends using a ‘Check, Treat, Complete’ step-by-step process.
“Firstly, you need to check children’s hair once a week using a plastic detection comb (with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart), if live lice are found, consult a pharmacist for treatment advice,” said Burgess.
“Some people may choose to treat the whole family even if head lice are only found on one or more of the children, but this is really not necessary and may cause undue stress.
“Next, treat if live lice are identified. For example, the Hedrin All In One Shampoo contains isononyl isononanoate, an active ingredient which kills lice in just five minutes.
“Make sure to follow the treatment instructions carefully, with Hedrin’s shampoo, you simply apply to dry hair (from root to tip), leave for no more than five minutes, wet hair to make a lather, comb through a section at the time.
“The final step is complete, so a further check should be carried out a week after application, and you should repeat the treatment for a second time to kill any lice that may have hatched from surviving eggs during that time.”
Hedrin All In One Shampoo (200ml) is available from Boots for £13.99.
Hedrin Once Spray Gel (100ml) from Amazon for £9.17.
Hedrin Protect & Top Spray (200ml) from Amazon for £6.29.
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