How Do You Solve a Problem Like Head Lice?

Gary Evans Pharmacist with Boots Chemist Mumbles gets down to the nitty gritty of that age old problem of head lice.

OCTNits-picDoesn’t time fly! Six weeks of school holidays, all over and done with! The kids are back to school, and finally we all have a bit of peace. Until the day your child announces “my head itches!”

Then you receive the dreaded letter from the school – one of the children in the school has nits!  Fingers are pointed!  How could this happen? My kids aren’t dirty!

The first thing to remember is head lice are a perfectly normal thing for a child to catch. Most of us will remember the smell of the alcoholic lotion applied to our heads, whilst we sat perfectly still  for two hours or more waiting for it to work.

It’s useful to remember that the word “nit” refers to the hard pin-head sized egg of the head louse that sticks to the hair. If it is white then the nit is alive, if brown then it is dead. The lice are the creepy crawlies!

Head lice do not prefer dirty heads; in fact it’s the exact opposite. Anyone has the potential to catch head lice – but they aren’t super predators that can leap enormous distances! They can only be caught by direct head contact – think how children sit engrossed in a book with their heads touching. For some reason girls are more likely to get head lice than boys – maybe it’s because they sit closer to each other!

Head lice are only worth treating if you can see live lice – so once you’ve received the dreaded letter, you can check for lice by combing through the hair with a fine toothed comb (a nit comb – the comb Nitty Gritty ® is fantastic!). This is most easily done just after washing the hair with a normal conditioner.

If you follow this method of combing weekly or fortnightly it is said to prevent head lice from breeding – this is the only prevention (it is not a guarantee though!)

Comb over a white piece of paper or card, and if anything drops onto the paper, or is on the comb then we’ve got an infestation.

If we find live lice then we need to treat. There are many treatments available – the majority of which you need to use twice – this is very important .Ask your pharmacist for more details, there are now revolutionary new products that only require a single treatment.

Don’t forget – your pharmacist is available for advice on a wide range of minor illnesses and injuries – but if you have concerns that the condition is more serious then contact your Pharmacist, NHS Direct 08454647, your  own GP or your local Accident and Emergency department.

Gary Evans MRPharmS
Boots Mumbles

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