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Give lice their marching orders


RIGOROUS ROUTINE A regular anti-lice regime will help you keep on top of any potential lice infections.

Deirdre Freney

With the beginning of a new school year well underway, with it comes the arrival of seasonal parenting problems. Namely the arrival of the head lice. Some will escape the wrath of the louse but others won’t be that lucky.

We have all received the text – insert generic phrase describing the dreaded louse’s arrival onto the head of some poor unfortunate into the class.
The detection really isn’t as easy as you may think; these little guys don’t like being found. Lice are tiny wingless insects and are grey-brown in colour. Fully grown, a louse will be approximately 3mm or the size of a sesame seed.  Their favourite locations are nape of the neck and behind the ears. Like us they like a bit of warmth!
Contrary to popular belief they can’t fly, jump or swim; they simply stroll head to head. Seeing them on a head is quite tricky, and parting the hair and looking generally isn’t enough to detect their presence. Combing the hair using any conditioner and a fine comb will confirm for sure if lice are present or not. The conditioner immobilises them so they can be combed out.
Finding a live louse means making a trip to the pharmacy. The types of product used to treat lice vary. There are many chemical treatments available. These treatments immobilise the critters by dehydrating them or paralysing their central nervous system. Some are left on overnight others have a mode of action that lasts 15 minutes.  
If a chemical route isn’t one that you are after, there is a nit comb on the market that has spiral, grooved teeth that, when used with hair conditioner, can remove live lice and the eggs. Treatments do need to be repeated a week after the initial treatment to eliminate any lice or eggs that may have been missed and have hatched out.

Thankfully there are a lot of preventative measures on the market. Anything that is strongly scented usually acts as a good deterrent. Shampoos, conditioners and leave in sprays with tea tree are useful. There are also hair ties that smell strongly of essential oils.
If your child’s hair is long enough, it is essential to keep it tied up for school. If the hair isn’t free to sit on another shoulder, the lice won’t be able to travel over.
Sadly the one thing to remember with head lice is that it will never be a one-treatment solution. Tackling the problem involves a lot of commitment and consistency – if you are treating head lice you need to repeat your actions, and even after this you really do need to keep a close eye to see if you have missed any along the way. You don’t want the stragglers starting a new family!
Establish a weekly routine of combing with a nit comb and conditioner as one sure way of keeping on top of potential lice infections. Ultimately, treating head lice really is a process of interrupting their life cycle.