I don't often watch the television but today I heard something which made me stop for a moment and listen.
It seems head lice affect one in five children, mostly girls and they are on the increase. Now, fortunately it's not something either of my children has ever suffered from, but I know many people who have.
Nits are the bane of many families’ lives because once your child gets them the whole family needs to take preventative measures. However, the most common approach is to use shampoos and lotions, many of which contain dangerous chemicals which are potentially dangerous.
The National Pediculosis Association which is a non-profit health and education agency for safe and effective management of head lice, urges parents to avoid treatments containing lindane. This chemical was recently banned for agriculture by the EPA but is still used in head lice treatments.
Head lice are tiny, wingless parasitic insects which live among human hairs and feed on blood drawn from the scalp. They aren't dangerous, don't spread disease but are contagious and very annoying. Their bites can make your scalp itchy and persistent scratching can lead to infection.
Nits are lice eggs and are found on the hair shafts close to the skin where it is nice and warm. Before they hatch they look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots, a bit like dandruff except they can't be removed by brushing.
They hatch within 1 to 2 weeks and once they become lice they feed on blood every 4 to 6 hours. Their biting causes itching and scratching and of course the sensation of things moving around and tickling. In some children they cause the lymph glands to swell.
Lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person, especially in group settings which are why they are so common in schools. They spread mainly through head-to-head contact, but also by the sharing of personal items such as towels, combs, hair brushes etc. , which explains why children and teens are most prone to catching them. Embarrassing as they may be, head lice have little to do with personal hygiene.
Doctors often recommend a shampoo, cream, or lotion to kill the lice but increasingly now these treatments are unsuccessful because the lice are resistant to the chemicals. They are fighting back and spreading.
It should be remembered that these products are insecticides. Applying them too much or too frequently can be dangerous and you certainly shouldn't apply them to children under 2 years of age.
Also, you shouldn't use more than one head lice medication at a time, use the same medication more than three times if it doesn't appear to be working, or use a hair dryer after applying the scalp treatments because some contain flammable ingredients.
Many products contain pesticides which are designed as neurotoxins and are potentially carcinogenic. They are totally inappropriate for use on young children or anyone else for that matter when you consider that your skin will absorb 60% of whatever you put on it.
Why on earth would you want to put pesticide on your skin when there are safer natural alternatives like nit combs and non toxic sprays based on plant extracts?
It's the same with many of the skin care products found on the market today. Most contain poisonous toxic synthetic chemicals which could be potentially dangerous but few people realize it.
Did you know that there are over 10,500 different synthetic chemicals used in the creams, potions and lotions we put on our skin each day?
Whilst these chemicals have been tested on animals at some stage, they have never been tested for long term health effects either individually or in combination. Even those that have been tested and carry a health hazard warning label can still be used.
According to the FDA - “Cosmetics and their ingredients are not required to undergo approval before they are sold. Manufacturers can use any ingredient except for ten prohibited substances without government review" What a pity that wasn't highlighted on the news as well. Unlike head lice we aren't getting resistant to the chemicals - quite the opposite and that's why head lice are smarter than we are.
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Jean Shaw is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic - Jodi's Journey and Autism, Amalgam and Me - Jodi's Journey Continues http://www.jeanshaw.com