Head lice are a parent’s nightmare and if your children are of primary school age, head lice may well be paying you a visit over the course of the next few months.
So in aid of National Bug Busting Day on 31 October, Stuart Gale, chief pharmacist and owner of www.oxfordonlinepharmacy.co.uk, wants to educate parents on head lice so they’re better equipped to keep them at bay.
Here are 11 things Gale wants you to know:
1. It takes just 30 seconds for lice to transfer from one head to another.
2. Head lice can’t fly, jump or swim – head-to-head contact is their only means of transport.
3. They are very unlikely to be spread by objects such as hats, combs and pillows.
4. Head lice only affect people and can’t be caught from animals.
5. Lice eggs hatch in about 10 days, so once they have been laid there is a window for treatment before the lice get a chance to bed in. This is the best time to nip the critters in the bud.
6. Studies show that head lice are becoming resistant to some treatments.
7. If you would rather avoid using chemicals, regular brushing with a metal nit comb can be enough to keep head lice at bay.
8. Head lice appear to be repelled by strong smells such as tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary. Adding a few drops to clean hair on bath night may keep the bugs at bay.
9. Only people who are allergic to head lice saliva suffer from the telltale itch.
10. Contrary to popular belief, head lice don’t have a preference for dirty, clean, short or long hair – any scalp will do.
11. Effective treatment is a process. Use a specially formulated shampoo combined with a metal nit comb. Regular combing with a metal nit comb removes all eggs and any resilient bugs.
The NHS advises the best head lice treatment involves treating everyone in your house. All the members of your family should be treated on the same day.
Products: There are several different products that can be applied to the scalp and hair to kill head lice, including dimeticone (4%) lotion or lotion spray which is left on overnight, or dimeticone (4%) gel which is only left on for fifteen minutes.
Wet Combing: This involves removing head lice with a special fine-toothed comb. It’s suitable for everyone and is relatively inexpensive. Combs with flat-faced teeth spaced 0.2-0.3mm apart are best for removing head lice, although combs with smaller gaps can be used to remove eggs and nits after treatment.
Find out more information on dealing with nits here.