Not something anyone want’s to think about, but an unfortunate reality of back to school time.
They are every parent and guardians worst nightmare. No one told you that you’d be signing up for a dose of the heebie jeebies and constant hair checking when you decided to have kids. But come September, we all wait for the inevitable note to come home from school, informing us that there are cases of headlice in the classroom.
So here are our 5 tips to combating the creepy critters.
1. Drop the Judgement
Headlice are an equal opportunity annoyance – they don’t prefer clean hair, or not-so-clean hair. They don’t pick and choose. They just want access to a warm scalp. Little kids are always touching heads and the lice simply crawl from one head to the next.
Nearly every child will get them at some stage of their school career.
2. Prevention is better than scratching
There are a few great ways to help avoid the lice even getting to your childs hair:
- Tie up long hair – Braids, buns, ponytails are all great because they reduce the area of hair that lice can come into contact with.
- Tea tree oil – More research is needed on just how effective tea tree oil is for combating headlice, however a 2012 study, published in Parasitology Research, found that tea tree oil may be able to kill lice in the nymph and adult stages of life, as well as reduce the number of lice eggs that hatch. Add a few drops to your childs usual shampoo.
- Aloe Vera and Jojoba Shampoo – Apparently headlice hate these scents and tend to avoid these smells!
3. Comb, comb and combs some more!
This is invaluable advice, whether your kids have lice or not. Combing with a special nit comb every week will make a huge difference. Yes it’s time consuming and it might not be the easiest to get an uncooperative little person to sit still, but it means that you can spot a potential probelm and stop it at an early stage.
Put a little conditioner in the hair at bathtime (this will help the comb glide more easily through the hair). Be meticulous – divide hair into sections and comb through each part. Wipe the comb on a tissue in between to identify nits. Nits are the eggs and look like black or brown specks, about the size of a pinhead. Lice are about the size of a sesame seed.
4. Warning signs
Check around the nape of your child’s neck and behind their ears for red patches or scratches. Lice often concentrate around these areas. Just because your child isn’t itching, doesn’t mean that they don’t have them.
It’s a built up allergy to the lice that causes the itching. Early detection is crucial. Your mission is to get them gone before they multiply.
5. Treat and Comb
If you do find eggs, or lice, treat it as a project. A kind of creepy, icky one sure, but it’s best not to freak your kids out. In the U.K. they have started viewing having headlice like having the common cold. Not fun, but something that you have to deal with.
And just like when you have a cold, our Pharmacists are on hand to offer the best advice on how to treat it. Please don’t ever feel funny or embarrassed about asking. This is something that nearly every parent has had to tackle. Many of our Pharmacists are parents, so they know what it’s like!