Once kids go back to school in fall, the head lice problem resurfaces. These small, bothersome insects are sure to bring on other issues. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome them. To get there, here's what you need to know about them.
What do head lice look like?
Head lice are grayish insects about the size of a sesame seed that feed on blood. Wrongly associated with poor hygiene, lice like both clean and dirty hair. A female can lay five to ten eggs per day on average. Live eggs are grayish white and shiny. They stand near the root of the hair and are very difficult to remove. The dead eggs are much whiter and can be found away from the scalp.
How do they spread?
The transmission occurs by direct contact with hair. Contrary to popular belief, lice do not fly and do not jump from one head to another. In addition, the transmission via objects such as brushes or pillows is difficult, because lice can’t survive more than three days far from the scalp.
How can you spot them?
Although itchy head, neck and ears are the main symptoms, know that lice aren’t necessarily the cause. You may also notice small blood spots on the scalp. For a diagnosis of the infection, the lice need to be visible.
When to check your child’s head?
It is recommended to examine your child's head every day if there are lice in his entourage, or if he scratches a lot or complains that his head is itchy. Also, during the school year, it is recommended to check for lice once a week as a precaution.
How do you inspect for lice?
Use a fine comb and follow these steps:
- First, wet the hair of the person being examined. Put his head under a lamp to see better lice avoid light so you can see them moving away;
- Separate the hair into several strands with the comb;
- Move the comb through each strand and check if there are eggs or adult lice on the comb after each combing;
- Pay special attention to behind the ears and the nape of the neck;
- Wash your hands after examination.
Which treatment should you use?
If you find lice or nits, you should definitely apply a treatment as soon as possible. Several products are available in pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for help; he will know how to advise an effective treatment which will respond to your needs. He may even prescribe the treatment in question.
What additional advice should you follow to manage the situation effectively?
- Check everyone’s head at home;
- Only treat people who have lice or nits;
- Treat all infected persons the same day;
- Notify the school, the day care and people who had contact with the person;
- Follow the instructions recommended by the manufacturer of the head lice treatment. For questions, contact your pharmacist;
- Perform a cleaning of personal items (bedding, combs, hairbrushes, hats, caps and other accessories);
- If you use a two-application treatment, apply the second treatment 9 days after the first. If you would rather use a product requiring three applications, make the second treatment 7 days after the first, and the third one 7 days after the second;
- Use a fine comb in addition to treatment 2, 11 and 17 days after the first application of the product to increase the chances of success;
- Do a full treatment with a different product if you still find lice 17 days after the first application.
Can you prevent lice?
Unfortunately, there is no prevention treatment against lice. Here are several quick tricks to help your child prevent its spread:
- Tie up long hair;
- Don’t share personal items such as hats, scarves or brushes;
- Place hats, caps and scarves in the sleeves of coats;
- Avoid pressing heads against each other’s.
Drugs and natural health products may cause serious adverse effects or interactions with other drugs. Carefully read inscriptions, warnings and brochures provided by the manufacturer and consult your pharmacist when purchasing such drugs and natural health products. Keep out of the reach of children.