Looks like lice are back in some communities if the Twitterverse is anything to go by. We were plagued several times last year, so I took a head on approach that worked within two weeks each time.
Sadly, there’s still a stigma attached to head lice. Even though the creatures don’t discriminate where they live, clean hair or dirty hair, I still get horrified looks from people when I declare we’ve had them again. It’s possibly this embarrassment plus the fact the lice are becoming resistant to pharmacy treatments not to mention the sheer work involved is why many families struggle to be free of them. But the fact is, we need to start doing something more aggressive otherwise we will have a proper epidemic, if there isn’t one already.
When I first discovered them on my daughter’s hair I was mortified. She was 8 months old, which is very rare but easy to spot as her head of hair was fairly full for her age but fine. I hadn’t a clue where she could have picked them up from, she wasn’t at nursery and none of the kids she played with had them to my knowledge. Frankly, it didn’t particularly matter as we were not about to lock her away for fear of getting them again. As a knee jerk reaction we went out and bought Lyclear but after I had calmed down and combed the internet on the subject, we got into bug busting.
And it was a good job too because I was the one who suffered the most. I went on to have them another couple of times. We ditched the insecticides, which in my view are expensive and a waste of money as none of them are 100% effective. All you need to positively get rid of them is a disciplined wet combing routine. Get some bog standard hair conditioner and a super fabulous comb, such as the Nitty Gritty Nit Free comb (curiously endorsed by Jason Donovan and Jonathon Ross). You could alternatively invest in the Bug Busting Kit from registered charity Community Hygiene Concern for £5.95 which has a variety of combs depending on the age of your child or stage of the problem. If you’re on a budget check with your school, nurse, GP or health visitor, they may have combs they provide.
So what on earth is ‘bug busting‘? Well if you haven’t heard of it, most likely you haven’t had head lice, at least for 20 years. It is the method most recommended by health professionals and other parents. It is generally thought that an egg can take 7-10 days to hatch, the lice reaches adulthood in the next 6 -14 days and is able to start laying eggs. Nit sacs containing eggs are extremely hard to comb out, as they cling to near the root of the hair where its nice and warm to hatch. Therefore, the concept is, wash hair then put conditioner on and comb through the day you discover the lice (don‘t forget to rinse the conditioner off!). Then repeat this every 3 days for two weeks which ensures when the nits hatch you remove them before they are able to lay more eggs. Other top tips are, part the hair in small sections working over the whole head plus wash the comb after each sweep so as not to add lice or nits back into the hair.
Sounds like a lot of work, and it is. I’m a full-time working mum so the last thing I need is to be having a battle my toddler every 3 days when I try and comb her hair. But the alternative is gruesome. As well as making kids uncomfortable and miserable, if left untreated, then the chronic scratching can open up wounds on the child’s head where the lice can lay eggs and cause an infection.
To my mind, if you aren’t prepared to invest a small bit of time or ‘one-off’ cost for a comb then you are contributing to the problem. The more people get involved, the more likely we are to reduce the spread of these pests. So this is my plea to all families: as soon as you spot a big or get the dreaded note home from school or nursery, get busting!
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