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Dealing with Head Lice: Symptoms and Treatment



Head lice are a tiny wingless parasite that only affect humans. They do not carry diseases nor are they dangerous but they can be annoying and very irritable, especially for children. Head lice lay eggs in the scalp and feed on the blood! So you cannot get them from an animal. They pass from human to human by crawling onto the head of another person.


Children are most likely to have head lice infestations because of their relative close proximity to one another in schools and the playground. They are not a cause for embarrassment nor are they a cause of unhygienic environments, but because of their highly contagious nature they simply thrive in busy close human to human places, like kids parties, sport activities and camps.

Symptoms


Head lice are small but they can be seen by the naked eye. The eggs (called Nits) are tiny yellow dots that are laid on the hair close to the scalp. The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is greyish white. Lice bite the scalp which causes scratching. Some kids who are very sensitive may develop an itchy scalp early on if infected, while others may take weeks for kids to starts scratching.

Kids may complain things are moving around on their head or red bumps might appear from scratching the scalp. Sometimes, with persistent scratching, red bumps will become sores and are at risk of bacterial infection if left untreated.

Treatments

Your GP or chemist can provide you with special medicated shampoos or over-the-counter prescription medications. Creams and shampoos usually kill the lice but this may take up to a week because of the eggs hatching and causing re-infestations so it is highly recommended that you repeat treatment 7-10 days after the first treatment.

Removing them naturally

If you do not want to use medicated creams on your child’s scalp (do not use shampoos under two years old) you can completely rid lice by hand using a fine-tooth comb.

By wetting the child’s wet and conditioned hair (temporarily immobilises the lice), you can comb out all lice and eggs. Do this every few days for up to two weeks to make sure all eggs and lice have been removed.

Preventing head lice

Lice can live on bed linen, stuffed animals, hats, hair-ties, brushes etc so if you have had a recent infestation to prevent it happening again you should wash all bed linen and clothing, stuffed animals, soak hair accessories etc of the child in a very hot wash/water.


If one or more child in your house is infected you should wash all linen, vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture ( throw away hoover bag) to prevent lice coming back.

Comments

Louise o Sullivan

(05/10/2014 22:42)


Ah the oul head lice.... Don't think anyone escapes it... I've dealt with them over the years through my job and personally.... Best way to get rid is conditioner and fine tooth comb.. Make sure you run the fine tooth comb as close to the scalp as possible... Do it every two days... Then again every 4 days until you see no little black eggs in the comb... They are little blighters... Make sure you change pillowcase everytime you do treatment and wash scarves and hats... Repeat conditioner process again a couple of weeks later... I know it sounds like a lot of work but believe me it's worth it... Chemical treatment really damages the hair.... Hope this helps those out there who come across them little blighters.... And also myth about them only going for clean heads... Not true... Warm and moist is what they want

Carmel

(22/10/2014 20:46)


Another money saving and natural remedy is mayonnaise. Cover the hair completely. Cut open the long side of plastic bag - light food or veggie bag or heard lately of mother using clingfilm. Cover the hair excluding as much air as possible. Use hair clip to keep bag sealed. Leave for an hour, this is believed to smother them. Comb and repeat as necessary.

Sarah

(24/10/2014 11:55)


Can I just mention prevention! You cannot always prevent Head Lice completely but it would help if girls long hair was tied back neatly every day. I know some children don't like having their hair tied back but it would help a little. Also, Tea Tree Oil. I add a little drop into a jug of water and pour over my childs hair after washing and allow it to dry naturally. I was told this was a good prevention method.

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