Although it’s something that most parents probably don’t want to think about, just about every child will get head lice at some point during their school years.  It’s nothing to be ashamed about and it doesn’t mean that you have a problem with hygiene.  Head lice are not particularly fussy and will live in all types of hair – long, short, dirty, clean.  As parents, we all need to be on the lookout for head lice at all times.

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Head lice are nothing to be frightened of – they are small insects (about the size of a sesame seed when fully grown) that live close to the scalp.  They lay eggs called nits which stick to the hair and look a little like dandruff.  Head lice cannot jump or fly but are easily transferred from one head to another, especially when children are playing with their heads close together – the head lice will walk across from one head to the next.  You can’t catch head lice from animals – head lice specialize in living on human heads!  This means that if your children pick up head lice in school (which is very likely) it’s quite possible that everybody in the house will get head lice which means that everybody in the family will need to be inspected.

There are some measures that you can take to prevent your children from getting head lice:

  • Regular brushing and combing is the easiest way to spot head lice
  • Head lice will find it more difficult to transfer to long hair if it is kept tied back – plaiting girls’ hair for school is a great way of deterring head lice
  • When you wash your child’s hair, use conditioner and comb it through with a “nit comb”, inspecting for head lice as you do so

If you catch them early enough, they won’t get a chance to multiply and really become a problem to get rid of.  If you do find head lice in your child’s hair, then you need to act fast to get rid of them.  Here are the steps you need to follow if you want to get rid of head lice in your child’s hair.

  • Shampoo the hair and then apply conditioner
  • Use a “nit comb” to comb through each section of hair to remove the lice and nits
  • Comb through your child’s hair daily with the “nit comb” as this means that any new lice that hatch will be caught before they have the chance to mature and lay eggs of their own.
  • Keep combing through daily until you get three whole days with no lice or nits
  • Don’t forget to use the “nit comb” at least once a week to inspect for a recurrence of the head lice
  • If one of your children has head lice, you will need to be vigilant and check the whole family for them

While it’s perfectly possible to buy head lice treatments from your local pharmacy, they kill the lice but don’t remove the nits which leaves children at risk of new lice hatching and laying more eggs.  These lotions can also smell pretty awful and most children find the treatment quite unpleasant.  Research has shown that wet-combing with conditioner is just as effective at removing the “nits” which is the major challenge when dealing with head lice.

Using a nit comb and checking for lice at every hair wash will mean that you will be aware as soon as your child gets head lice and you’ll be able to treat them immediately before the problem becomes too severe.

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