Along with the continuous rainfall on the Gold Coast have come hot humid weather and an outbreak of head lice. Just thinking about it makes my head start to itch!
Though very small, lice can be seen by the naked eye. What you might see by thoroughly examining your child’s head are lice eggs (called nits). These look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. Lice lay nits on hair shafts close to the scalp, where the temperature is perfect for keeping warm until they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, only they can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.
Unless the infestation is heavy, it’s more common to see nits in a child’s hair than it is to see live lice crawling on the scalp. Lice eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they’re laid. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear and continues to be firmly attached to the hair shaft. This is the stage when it’s easiest to spot them, as the hair is growing longer and the egg shell is moving further away from the scalp.
Kids are more susceptible to head lice as they have close contact to one another at schools and child care centres. Head lice can be spread through hairbrushes, hats and clothes. Young children often lay next to each other at sleep time so it’s easy for the lice to jump around from one head to another. There are many products available on the market and if you choose a chemical solution always ensure they meet the Australian safety standards.
I fortunately have not had to deal with head lice with my kids yet but I know a lot of people who have and the most popular and effective I keep coming across is the conditioner and comb technique.
The conditioner and comb technique is a very effective way of detecting and treating head lice however you will need to continue treatment every day for about ten days to ensure you remove all the lice from your child’s hair. The conditioner works by stunning the lice for a few minutes so they still enough to be combed out. If you want to give this technique a go follow the steps outlined below:
- Untangle your child’s hair with an ordinary comb.
- Apply a generous amount of conditioner to your child’s hair covering the entire scalp from roots to tips. You can use any conditioner, however, a white product will make it easier to see the nits.
- Use your ordinary comb to distribute the conditioner evenly through your child’s hair and divide the hair in to four or more sections using hair ties.
- Change to a head lice comb.
- Pick up a section of hair near the back of your child’s head. Place the teeth of the comb against your child’s scalp and comb the hair from the roots through to the tips.
- Use a tissue to wipe the teeth of the comb clean after each brush stroke and check for head lice and eggs.
- Comb each section of your child’s hair at least twice until you have done the whole head. If your comb becomes clogged up use an old toothbrush to clear the teeth.
- Keep combing until all the conditioner has gone.
- Repeat the conditioning and combing daily until you find no head lice for ten consecutive days. It is important to continue for ten days to make sure you remove all the adult lice as well as any lice that hatch, before they get a chance to reproduce.
A few techniques I use to prevent my kids from getting head lice is the tea tree oil treatment. I filled a spray bottle with water, added 20 drops of eucalyptus oil and 10 drops of lavender and spray their hair in the mornings before day care days. I always plait my daughter’s hair and I am teaching both kids not to share hats or play with others hair. Seems to be working so far!
With thanks to careforkids.com.au
Words Amardy Baucke
Originally published in Coast Kids