Towards the middle of last term, my daughter’s preschool sent home a warning to say that there were two confirmed cases of head lice and to be honest I think I freaked more than the chicken pox warning previously. I mean, aren’t mozzies and sandflies bad enough, let alone little creatures itching their heads? Luckily for me, we were spared… this time. But I thought I’d check out the signs and prevention for the inevitable next time.
Head lice don’t have wings and don’t jump really high, so they rely on head-to-head contact to move from head to head so children are often directly affected because of how they play. This means family members are also at risk but you only have to treat those directly affected.
This also means you don’t have to clean the whole houses sheets, only the affected person’s pillowslip. It needs to be washed in 60 degree hot water or dried in a hot clothes dryer.
Head lice eggs are small, the size of the top of a pin. Here is the gross bit… you’ll need to pull an egg off and it will make a pop sound when crushed.
The hardest part is this: don’t be fooled if you aren’t itching. You could still have lice! Basically if you get the school warning, check everyone!
How to Check: (from Better Health Vic)
The easiest and most effective way to find head lice is to use the conditioner and comb treatment weekly. This includes:
Step 1. Comb hair conditioner onto dry, brushed (detangled) hair. This makes it difficult for lice to grip the hair or run around.
Step 2. Thoroughly comb sections of the hair with a fine tooth head lice comb.
Step 3. Wipe the conditioner from the comb onto a paper towel or tissue.
Step 4. Look on the tissue and on the comb for lice and eggs.
Step 5. Repeat the combing for every part of the head at least four or five times.
Step 6. If lice or eggs are found, the person should be treated.
Now to get rid of the buggers…
The two preferred treatment options available for initially treating head lice are the ‘conditioner and comb’ method, and the use of an insecticide. There are plenty of treatments around and after a few forum searches, many people also recommend using apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.
Keep them away….
My daughter’s preschool told me head lice don’t particularly like overly clean hair so limit the amount of washes as much as you can. They also advised using hair spray as a bit of a barrier. Keep their hair as tied back as possible.
Good luck everyone!