Tuesday 29 April 2014

An itchy subject

With the kids back at school following the Easter holidays, some parents might find their little darlings bring home more than homework at the end of the day. I've been speaking to Lyclearthe European market leader for head lice treatment products, to find out all about head lice, what to look for and how to treat them if you find your child scratching their head, as it's a subject I know nothing about but unfortunately will probably encounter in the future....


Head lice is an issue that many parents have to deal with and tackling them is a dreaded topic, often spoken about in embarrassed whispers. There are many interesting head lice facts out there, not all true, but knowing the big ones helps with prevention and treatment. This post looks at the key information about lice, from what they are, to tips on how to make sure they don’t infest your household. It also provides advice on how to blast them away if they do.

The first step is to know what head lice are. They’re small insects that live in human hair – not to be mistaken with nits which are egg shells for lice. Lice are parasites, living on a diet of blood which they obtain by biting a juicy scalp. 

While lice themselves aren’t particularly harmful, they can be a huge nuisance and really difficult to get rid of, and bite marks can get infected with excess scratching. They tend to have a short life cycle, with a female louse laying eggs after being alive for just seven days. This means that an infestation can get out of control quite quickly. If left untreated for a while, you might see lots of lice in your child's hair, making them harder and harder to remove.

Contrary to popular belief, head lice don’t fly or hop, but instead crawl, which is why head-to-head contact is the biggest contributor to an infestation. Young girls are more likely to get them as they often play closely together and are always hugging or sharing brushes and hair ties. 

Another misconception is that lice prefer dirty hair. Lice actually have no preference and it’s purely a game of chance, with most parents having to deal with lice, and the lucky (very) few avoiding it.

Prevention is the ideal method for reducing lice, but isn’t always the easiest task in the world, and no matter how careful you are, lice may still find their way to your house. Telling children not to hug and share is a hard thing to do and it’s not very likely that they’ll listen. Keep an ear open for any news you hear about other kids in the school with lice and be cautious: spotting the initial signs can speed up the treatment process no end!

Detection combing is one of the most common and effective ways to monitor whether lice are present. It is advised to look at your child’s hair once a week to check if lice have appeared and, if they do, you can take immediate action. Other symptoms to look out for include itching and red spots around the back of the neck and ears and visible white eggs in hair. Acting proactively means that you’ll be more prepared to take sudden action if you do spot anything.   

The first thing to do when you do identify any lice is call the school and other parents to let them know. This can be an embarrassing thing to do, but needn’t be – as mentioned earlier, hygiene simply isn’t a factor in causing an outbreak. The more people know about the creepy critters, the quicker they can be effectively exterminated!

The second port of call is to check everyone else in the house too. This helps to determine who has lice and who needs to be treated. Wet combing helps to identify how big the infestation is, but the most effective method to combat lice is using head lice treatment sprays or shampoos. This is the only method that helps get rid of both lice and nits, while a lot of home remedies (such as covering hair in mayonnaise or the use of oils) just concentrate on slowing down the lice, making them easier to kill – they don’t have any effect on nits at all. Keep this routine up for several washes so that you can be sure that the lice won’t show up again and that they’re definitely gone for good.

Once you’re sure the lice are gone, you have to make sure that you don’t get re-infested: wash all bedding, clothes, toys, and carpets – anything that would hold lice – on a high heat. Don’t forget to keep an eye on everyone’s hair, while also letting children know to keep their head away from friends for a bit to be on the safe side.

For those that want to find out more, national Bug Busting Days are a great place to start: they are held throughout the year, are packed with top tips and work closely with schools to keep parents and children alike as clued up as possible.

Thank you to Lyclear for this guest post - aside from making me feel rather itchy, it's been really useful to learn about lice and I hope other mums find this helpful too. 

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