Dealing With Head Lice

September 4th, 2014 / by / in: Health / No responses

 Almost all parents with school-age kids are familiar with the dreaded head louse. These nasty little critters find their way onto kids of all ages and backgrounds, no matter how frequently you force your kids into the bath. Let them run rampant and they’ll multiply and spread, so stopping lice in their tracks is crucial.

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that love human hair. They hide on the scalp and feed on small amounts of blood. Stubborn and contagious, lice can cause plenty of itching and irritation before they make their way onto the next unfortunate head. Rest assured, head lice are not dangerous and won’t make your kids sick, but they will annoy the family and stay put until you get rid of them.

What Treatments Are Available?

There are a range of different medicated lotions, sprays and shampoos available that can help kill off those pesky lice. If you’ve tried a few OTC treatments from your pharmacy then your doctor may recommend a stronger alternative. Lice can also become resistant to certain incecticides, so it may take a few tries to find the product that works on your child’s hair.

If you do use one of these medicated treatments, make sure that you follow the directions very carefully. If the treatment isn’t used correctly then it may not work at all, and using too much of a product or using it the wrong way can cause unpleasant side effects and reactions.

Very severe cases of head lice that do not respond to the usual OTC or prescription topical treatments may require an oral medication to kill off the lice. Your doctor can prescribe this medication and it should clear up the problem fairly quickly.

Natural Alternatives

Some parents are uncomfortable with the idea of using chemical treatments on their child’s hair. This is a valid concern, especially if your child has particularly sensitive skin or other health problems. The following natural treatments can be tried out before you turn to medication:

  • Wet combing with conditioner
  • Essential oils such as tea tree oil, anise oil or ylang ylang oil
  • Applying mayonnaise or olive oil to the hair and leaving overnight to smother the lice

Combing Lice and Nits

Even if you do try an incecticide medication, you will probably need to comb out your child’s hair to remove any lice or nits that are stuck to the hair and scalp. Nit combing can be tedious and unpleasant for you and your child, but it’s a necessary step to stop the infestation once and for all.

If your child is under the age of two then nit combing is the recommended treatment for head lice, as small children cannot use medicated lice products.

Before you comb your child’s hair, wash it with regular shampoo and then apply plenty of conditioner. Leave the conditioner in and use a normal comb to get your child’s hair as straight and tangle-free as possible. Separate your child’s hair into individual sections so that you can work through the whole head without missing a strand.

Using a fine metal comb designed especially for head lice, comb through each separate section of your child’s hair very carefully. After each stroke, check the comb for signs of nits or lice. Wipe them away with toilet paper or rinse with hot water.

Repeat this process every few days until you no longer see any traces of lice or nits. Be patient- this can take some time, but it will be well worth it when those itchy critters are gone from your home!

Photo: © / Goodluz