HEAD LICE outbreaks could plague schools this winter as half-term approaches and kids mingle more.
Experts have warned that stopping the spread of the bugs is ‘impossible’ with families up and down the country dealing with ‘lice infestations’.
And while you might have thought multiple Covid lockdowns may have stopped lice outbreaks from being so severe – you should think again.
Speaking to The Sun GP, Dr Nisa Aslam, from Puressentiel explained that lice spread through head to head contact but it’s impossible to stop children, especially of primary age, from being up close to their friends.
She said: “Head lice are around all year but we tend to notice the spread more in the Autumn when children go back to school and start mixing.
“A survey for Puressentiel found that two out of three parents (64 per cent) have had to deal with a lice infestation and, on average, families can expect to deal with three or four episodes when they have school-age children”.
Furthermore, Dr Aslam said parents should also check their own scalps as close to 50 per cent said they had picked up the bugs from their kids.
But if you’re worried about the prospect of your child having to to stay home and having to home-school them once more if they have lice, then rest-assured as they can still go to school.
Dr Aslam said it’s ‘not necessary’ to keep them home and added: “To keep on top of lice, it’s important to do regular checks as children don’t always feel itchy when their scalps are first infested.”
Ian Burgess, Headlice expert at Hedrin said that lice thrive in colder weather and that as kids huddle together lice will spread.
He said: “You’d think that after numerous lockdowns and holidays spent at home would mean the pests would be gone for good, but unfortunately not.
“The back-to-school season is a common time for headlice outbreaks. Head lice thrive on children being close, huddled together, with heads touching. As the head-to-head contact resumes, the risk of infestations rises.
“It’s important to remember that head lice infestations do not solely happen at school, and they can spread just as easily in sports clubs or when meeting other children outside of school.
“Children are more prone to lice, as they are regularly in close contact with each other. Children aged 4 to 11 are most at risk, but no one is immune. Girls tend to be more likely to get lice as they typically play more closely together with greater head-to-head contact than boys.”
BEAT THE BUGS
Head lice can be irritating and uncomfortable, but there are some ways to tackle it without breaking the bank.
In order to prevent your kids getting lice in the first place, you could use products that contain natural headlice repellents.
Vosene’s 3 in 1 kid’s shampoo (£2.49) contains tea tree oil and lemon eucalyptus oil, to help keep head lice at bay – as does the brand’s conditioning defence spray (£3.00).
Puressentiel also sell a headlice repellent spray (£9.99) which is clinically proven to repel lice and prevent infestation for 24 hours.
If your child is unlucky enough to have head lice then one of the most common methods to get head lice is a metal louse comb.
These are a cheap way to remove lice from the scalp and can be purchased for under £4.00, such as the Superdrug Metal Nit and Head Lice Comb.
Plastic combs are even cheap than this and can be purchased for as little as 50p.
You need to start at the scalp to catch the lice eggs which are laid and hatch just a fraction away from the scalp.
To make sure you catch them you should comb each section in multiple directions and pull the comb all the way through to the ends of the hair – it’s likely you will see lice on the comb after you pull it through.
Check, Treat, Complete
Ian recommended using a ‘Check, Treat, Complete’ step-by-step process.
He explained: “Firstly, you need to check children’s hair once a week using a plastic detection comb (with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart), if live lice are found, consult a pharmacist for treatment advice.
“Some people may choose to treat the whole family even if head lice are only found on one or more of the children, but this is really not necessary and may cause undue stress.
“Next, treat, if live lice are identified. For example, the Hedrin All In One Shampoo contains isononyl isononanoate, an active ingredient which kills lice in just five minutes.
“Make sure to follow the treatment instructions carefully, with Hedrin’s shampoo, you simply apply to dry hair (from root to tip), leave for no more than 5 minutes, wet hair to make a lather, comb through a section at the time.”
One that is complete the last step is to do a further check a week after application, and you should repeat the treatment for a second time to kill any lice that may have hatched from surviving eggs during that time.
BLOW BUGS AWAY
Most of us have a hair dryer at home and a previous study found that using short sharp bursts of hot air on lice can help get rid of them.
Experts at the University of Utah said blasting the lice with hot air with a normal hair dryer killed 55 per cent of the lice.
If you’re going to try this method it’s important to only use short sharp bursts of hot air as you don’t want to burn your child’s scalp.
Using natural products can sometimes be better for those who have a sensitive scalp.
Products such as tea tree oil cost around £3.00 and you can also use other natural lotions and oils such as eucalyptus oil and lavender oil herbal remedies, the NHS says.
Pharmacies are often stocked up with lice lotions. These are usually a little bit more expensive than natural oils and range from anything from £5 to £20.
Products that contain isononyl isononanoate, can be useful as this is an active ingredient which kills lice in just five minutes.
Lucy Morton Channon, Superdrug’s Pharmacy Superintendent said you should try and use something gentle of the scalp.
Superdrug also sell a £6.49 spray which can be used to kill headlice.
Lucy said you should peak to your local pharmacy team for the best advice for you and your family.
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