Oh the shock and shame the first time our little prince or princess gets sent home from school for having head lice! And then those sweet little faces, confused and sort of guilty, as if they have done something wrong. To say nothing of the devastating blow to the heart and stomach of mom, who realizes that she has to confront these horrid tiny crawlers and rid the family of them.
Don’t panic mom, we’ve all been there! Or if we haven’t, we could be there soon. The first time experience though is definitely the worst. Best plan is to stay calm, be strong, soothe the little ones, and make de-lousing as pleasant an experience as possible.
Getting head lice is no-one’s fault. Head-to-head is by far the most common way that they are passed on, which is why they spread easily among younger children whose play typically encourages transfer. It’s hard to do anything about that. Infestation can also occur through sharing hats, combs, clothing and swimming towels, so we can at least teach youngsters not to share their personal belongings. Head lice don’t live on or get transferred from pets, so kitty and the family dog are innocent.
Big thing to remember: The presence of lice does not indicate poor hygiene. Nor do they have a specific preference for long or short hair. Swimming, normal bathing and using a regular shampoo will not prevent or eliminate head lice problems.
Try a happy treatment:
If lice do raise their ugly heads, put on a happy DVD and settle down to watch it with your child while you take control of the situation.
Since international research has indicated that some non-toxic methods can be as effective as insecticides it is worth looking at ranges such as Controlice which can offer treatment through plant oils, or a dimethicone variant which smothers lice. Because of the complex composition and mechanism of the active ingredients in these products, head lice cannot become resistant to them. Controlice also has a pleasant-to-use shampoo and hair conditioning spray which contain defensive active ingredients. They can both be used regularly by the whole family.
- Check coat collars, hoods, hats and scarves for lice and nits.
- If you find lice or nits (their eggs) it is important to start treatment immediately and then repeat it within seven days to prevent re-infestation by breaking the lice life cycle.
- To eliminate adult lice and their nits, spray Controlice Oil Spray onto dry hair. Work it through the hair with your hands until the entire head of hair is moist enough to glisten and feel slick. Wait 15 minutes. Wash and rinse with Controlice Defence Shampoo or another shampoo. Comb out any nits (eggs) and dead lice. Repeat seven days later to avoid re-infestation.
- Controlice Head Rinse Lotion is also a pesticide-free treatment. Its primary ingredient is dimethicone which forms a waxy layer around lice that suffocates them, causing their death. The colourless and odourless liquid is worked through dry hair with the fingers or one of the Controlice combs, and left on overnight or for eight hours before being washed and rinsed out. Then comb out the nits (eggs) and dead lice. Repeat after seven days to avoid re-infestation.
- After treatment comb out the nits using a fine-tooth comb (onto a tissue) so they can’t hatch and re-infest your child.
- Treat all household members simultaneously when an infestation has been identified.
- Wash bed linen and swimming towels and dry on high heat in a dryer.
- Sanitize hair brushes, combs and hair ties at least once a week.
- Consider Controlice pleasant-to-use Defence shampoo and hair conditioning spray which can be used regularly by the whole family. They smell gorgeous and contain active ingredients to help defend against head lice. Prevention is definitely better than cure!
The louse-y story
An adult louse is a crawling insect about the size of a pin head. It has six legs and grasps the hair with claws. Lice are clear in colour when they hatch but turn reddish-brown once they start feeding on the blood of their hosts. Head lice may also be indicated if one finds tiny, black spots on bed pillows, sheets or clothing near the neckline and shoulders. These black spots consist of digested blood excreted by a head louse after feeding.
Female lice lay small yellowish-white eggs (nits). The nits are oval-shaped and are attached at angles to the sides of the hair shafts. After being hatched the female louse is ready to mate in 7 to 10 days and will then start laying her nits in another 7 to 10 days. A female louse can lay up to 100 nits in her approximately 30-day lifespan.
Head lice are only spread by close contact with another person and you cannot get them from the family dog or cat. They crawl quickly but do not hop, jump or fly. They normally don’t separate from their human hosts because if they do they die from starvation in approximately 24-48 hours. They spend their entire lives in human hair, dropping down to feed on blood from the scalp four or five times a day. They favour the nape of the neck and the area behind the ears where they usually lay their eggs, so this is where you should check for signs of infestation.
If your child complains of itching around the ear and neck hairline area, lice may be the problem. However, many head lice infestations cause no symptoms, so it is better to look for nits than to rely on itching and scratching of the scalp. To make sure, use a fine tooth comb and a magnifying glass, and comb through the hair onto a tissue. Using a magnifying glass is more effective than a simple visual examination.
Head lice can be difficult to treat due to a high re-infestation rate and their ability to develop resistance to traditional insecticides contained in many over-the-counter medications. Outbreaks in some schools are so frequent that mothers treat their young children preventatively. In these cases parents should use alternative non-toxic products when treating children frequently for head lice to reduce their exposure to pesticides.
A last word of comfort: it is natural to start scratching your head once you read an article like this…