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Head Lice

Head lice are a human parasite which are spread through coming in contact with someone who is infested. Head lice can be frustrating as you need to be very painstaking in your treatment of it. If you do not eradicate the head lice from the head, they can continue to breed and spread.

How head lice is spread:

Head lice is spread through direct contact of hair between individuals, or sharing items which come in contact with the hair. This includes brushes, towels, hats, hair ties, pillows etc. Head lice do not jump or fly and generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host.

Life cycle of the head louse:

A female louse lays 3-5 eggs a day. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days and it takes another 7-10 day for the louse to mature and lay their own eggs. It is crucial that you continue to check the head for up to 2 weeks after treatment.

Head treatment:

There are chemical and natural products available for treatment of head lice. I have used both, and found no matter what I use it comes down to sitting down and picking eggs out of my children's hair. The treatments help in that they will kill any lice that are present in the hair, leaving you to deal with the eggs. Some treatments claim to kill the eggs (nits) too - although these may be more effective, do not rely on them and make sure all eggs are removed from the hair. It only takes one left behind to hatch and you are back to square one again.

Furniture and bedding:

It is not necessary to spray for lice. It is generally enough to vacuum areas where the infested person has come into contact with, such as bedroom floors, soft toys, sofas etc. If you are worried about soft toys, throw them in the dryer for half an hour. Changing bedding is recommended although generally not found to be crucial. Your main aim is to remove any stray eggs/lice/hairs around the house where others can come into contact with them and be infested.

Treating family members:

Check the head of all family members to determine whether they are infested. Look for the presence of eggs as well as coming through the hair with a fine tooth comb especially for lice. If none are found, treatment is not necessary. Only treat those who are found to be infested.

Safety of treatment:

All products available for the treatment of head lice can carry some risk. After all - if they are killing insects, then there is something potent in them, natural or not. Applying treatments to the head allow them to absorb into the scalp.

The safest way to treat head lice is to use a comb to remove the insects, then pick out all of the eggs. Some say that dumping a bottle of conditioner on the hair helps slow the head lice down, allowing for thorough removal when combed through with a nit comb. You will find that the eggs cling to the hair shaft and you need to use your fingernails to remove them. I have found nit combs work best held at an angle which scrapes the egg from the hair shaft, but always resort to using fingernails as it is much quicker.

To ensure the head lice are eradicated, use a nit comb and check the head every day/several times a day for a couple of weeks. This makes sure you find any stray eggs you have missed, or any head lice present on the head.

School and head lice:

If your child becomes infested with head lice, notify their school. This allows other parents to be warned of an infestation so they can check their children's hair. There is no point clearing your child's head when you will send them back to school amongst a healthily growing infestation. Schools generally require all head lice and eggs to be removed from the hair before attending school again.



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52 on 12/13/2009