Your children getting head lice is probably one of the worst fears of a parent and yet it is one of the most common health problems. If your children grow up without ever catching them you are lucky indeed.
Head lice cannot jump, they crawl from head to head which is why they are so common amongst children who tend to sit close together. If your child does get infected it is wise to wash all bedding and treat furniture where their heads may have rested, but healthy head lice tend to stay on heads rather than move. However sharing combs or brushes, where the lice may have been removed during combing, will spread them.
The life cycle of lice is about a month. The lice eggs or nits are attached to the hair close to the scalp and are very hard to remove. They hatch in 7 to 10 days and reach adulthood in another 6 to 10 days. They then live for another 20 days laying about 10 eggs a day.
Head lice are difficult to treat and to prevent the infection recurring, vigilance is needed to ensure that no eggs remain to hatch. Not everyone actually gets an itchy head so if someone in the family is infected all heads should be checked. Some people find the idea quite horrendous, when my granddaughter became infected my daughter would shake when she was trying to remove them. As a primary school teacher I had seen so many infected children I was unmoved.
Unfortunately head lice are becoming immune to chemical treatment and many parents prefer a home remedy for head lice anyway. One solution is to use hair conditioner, leave for a while, then combed with a nit comb. If you wipe the comb on a piece of tissue you will see the head lice even if they were invisible on the head. This has to be repeated every 3 days for at least two weeks to ensure any newly hatched eggs are caught. Personally we found that olive oil, which we left on overnight after combing, worked better and left the hair in a lovely condition. However the problem kept recurring and finally I bought a battery operated flea comb designed for pets which we found very effective. I have noticed that these are now advertised for head lice. If you decide to use one, check that the manufacturer guarantees that it is safe to use on a child. You should always remember that a child's skin is very sensitive.
Whatever method you choose, don't become complacent, once you get rid of head lice, keep checking to make sure they have not returned.
Advice on health matters should always be confirmed by a doctor and no liability is accepted for action taken.
Margaret Tye runs the FromTots2Teens website that offers information on supplies for children of all ages as well as advice on health and other child and teenage related problems.
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