Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Head Lice

Remember the nit nurse, thankfully those days of ritual humiliation and terror are gone but the down side is that if your child has head lice it may take a while before they notice, its a good idea to check every time you wash their hair those little buggers can arrive at any time.

Head lice often called nits unsurprisingly given the name like to live on heads, they are extremely common in children, often first noticed due to the presence of eggs in the child’s hair. they are spread from person to person by close contact, despite close attention to hygiene, the adult then lays egg in the next person’s hair which usually takes about a week to hatch, and the cycle begins again.

The first sign of head lice is usually itching the head, especially the nape of the neck and behind the ears. If you look closely at your child’s hair, you will see many small, white, oval-shaped eggs firmly attached to the root of the hair shaft, close to the scalp. The further away from the scalp, the longer the nit has been there (hair grows at the rate of 0.3 mm a day). The adult insects themselves move very quickly and are difficult to see unless you part the hair very quickly and you see one jump. There is no need to chase them, the fact that there are eggs are good enough evidence of their presence.

There are many different types of Anti-lice shampoos that are available from the chemist without a prescription, they are simple to use and effective. If you do choose to use them then do so strictly according to instructions.

For a more natural cure try hair conditioner. Apply a very generous amount of conditioner to dampened hair, and rub into the scalp and along the hair shafts. Leave on for at least 15 minutes. You may place a shower cap over your child’s head while you are waiting. The action of the conditioner is to suffocate the lice, which then release their claws from the hair shaft or scalp. A fine-toothed lice comb can then be used to comb out the conditioner. Use a tissue or tap water in the sink to rinse the comb between strokes. You will often see lice bodies that you have combed out. It is said that this treatment needs to be repeated every 2-3 days for two weeks, but it is very effective. Remember that there is no need to shave or cut your child’s hair, the little lice have no preference as to length and for that matter age.

Lice are highly contagious, and can spread rapidly between families and between children in the same class. If you find lice in you child’s head check the whole family, and even if you do not see any eggs or lice, it may well be worthwhile to treat all other family members just in case. It is important to let the child’s creche, nursery or school know that your child has lice.

Clean and vacuum your child’s room, as well as any areas in which they have been playing. Soak all brushes and combs in anti-lice shampoo for several hours to disinfect them. Wash all bedding, blankets and clothes in hot water. Any item that can't be washed should be sealed in plastic bags for two to three weeks in order to kill the eggs. If your child is itching excessively and it interrupts their sleep or if sores develop on the scalp, and weep or spread then you need to see a doctor.

These little buggers are tricky so keep an eye out