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Head Lice: How to protect your children?

With the kids in school, there is always the risk of head lice taking advantage of your children’s hair. This can lead to getting hair cut and tears, but we’re going to give you advice, remedies and treatments so you can steer clear of them.

What are head lice?

Head lice are small, wingless insects which are brown in colour. They cannot jump or fly and so they spread through head-to-head contact and climb from the hairs of the infected person to someone else’s. They grow to around 3mm in length

Female head lice lay eggs into the base of the hair right next to the scalp (for warmth), but they are very small in size and more likely than not will be very difficult to distinguish. Head lice feed by feeding off the scalp and sucking blood through it.

How common?

Children are the most affected by head lice and more commonly affect those aged between 4 and 11 years. However, anyone can catch head lice, but children are more likely while out in the school yard playing.

How to spot head lice?

The usual first sign of head lice is itching, but that is not usually the case. Itching is not caused by the biting of the lice, but an allergy to the lice themselves. Therefore, you may still have a head lice infestation without having an itchy scalp.

The most accurate method of determining a lice infestation is through detection combing. This is because dead head lice can still be seen after successful treatment. Detection combing can be done using wet or dry hair, but we recommend wet hair as it immobilises the lice. To carry out detection combing a fine head lice comb is needed, we recommend Nitty Gritty’s Head Lice Comb.

Wet Detection Combing:

  • Wash the hair with shampoo and plenty of conditioner, then use an ordinary comb to straighten out the hair.
  • Once the ordinary comb is moving freely switch to the head lice comb. Ensure that the tips of the comb are in contact with the scalp to allow for effective treatment.
  • Draw the comb through the hair, checking for head lice after every stroke.
  • Rinse the comb to remove any head lice found and continue, methodically, to comb the hair, section by section until all the hair has been checked.

Dry Detection Combing:

  • Straighten the hair with an ordinary comb.
  • Once the comb can move freely switch to the detction comb and again, make sure the tips of the comb are touching the scalp so as to ensure effective detection.
  • Comb each section of hair multiple times and slowly move from section to section untl all of the hair as been comed through.

Further Treatments:

An alternative to detection combing is the use of over-the-counter medicated sprays, shampoos and lotions. The most popular brands and the ones we recommend would be Hedrin, Lyclear and Full Marks.

Before purchasing any medicated lotions, it is vital to be certain that living head lice are present. Make sure to have enough for everyone infested with them and always read the instructions & any leaflet given carefully to ensure the procedure is carries out accurately.

Normally, you must repeat the treatment a second time one week later, as only one treatment is usually not sufficient.

If lice are still present after the two treatments, consult your pharmacist or GP for further advice.

Caution: Many head lice treatment products are flammable so please err on the side of caution before using.

How to prevent head lice?

Some schools alert parents to head lice infestations in school. Once notified, check your child’s hair regularly and avoid sharing combs, brushes and towels with those you think are infested.

However, regular prevention is very difficult and using hair lice shampoo treatments will not work as they are only effective in killing live lice.

To view all our head lice products click the following link: https://bit.ly/2Rq9MPA

As always, for further advice you can contact us immediately through PharmaChat, contact or call into one of our pharmacies or send an email to pharmacist@stratushealthcare.ie.


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