Head Lice – Together We Can Fight Them!
We know head lice are a normal part of childhood and if it’s your first time it can be very overwhelming with lots of information to digest.
Hedrin has developed an informative guide to help parents manage head lice with tips to help avoid them from returning.
The key is to incorporate a head check every three days as part of your child’s hygiene and bed time routine. Hedrin recommends following a simple three step process, Check-Treat-Complete, you can fight back against these bug bullies.
Be sure to follow our Next Steps – Check List to help you take those crucial next steps after applying Hedrin to ensure your house is head lice free!
Selecting The Right Product For You
Head lice are an established part of school life – as children spend so much time playing and learning together, it is very easy for them to spread. Thankfully, Hedrin gives you the power to take control of head lice!
The Hedrin Range
All Hedrin products are proven to be highly effective at killing head lice.
All Hedrin branded treatments:
- Do not require laborious combing in order to work
- Are skin friendly
- Have no unpleasant odours
- Have a physical mode of action which is more likely to kill insecticide resistant head lice
Managing Head Lice
The Golden Rules of Head Lice Management
Following the Golden Rules of Head Lice Management can help you take control of head lice in three simple steps.
CHECK, TREAT, COMPLETE
Head lice are a normal part of childhood and nearly 1 in 10 primary school children have head lice at any one time. Now we all know what a hassle it is to treat head lice and just how frustrating it can be when your child comes home scratching their head yet again. Now you have the power to stop head lice in their tracks! By following a simple three step process, Check-Treat-Complete, you can fight back against these school yard bug bullies.
The Impact of Lice
Anyone can get head lice although they are most common amongst children aged 4-11 who spend more time in close contact with friends and siblings. The best known symptom is itching but this is not the best indicator as many people may not itch with lice at all. Leaving lice untreated can lead to a loss of self esteem and confidence and a general feeling of being unwell.
When to Peek
Checking should be a normal part of every family’s personal hygiene routine, like brushing your teeth or washing your hair, and should be done regularly ideally once a week. An easy way to remember, ONCE A WEEK, TAKE A PEEK. A good time to do it would be in front of the TV after having a bath.
You could make this experience even more stress-free by:
- Showing your child how to check their own hair using a lice detection comb
- Using the weekly peek as an opportunity to tell a story or ask about their day
- Asking them to check your hair for you
- Rewarding your child for each week’s successful search
- Turning it into a fun game of hide and seek
- Putting their favourite TV program or DVD on
Where to Peek:
- Close to the scalp
- Behind the ears
- The back of the neck
- The top of the head
- Under the fringe
What to Peek For:
- Adult lice are 2-4mm long, immature lice are even smaller
- Live lice remain close to the scalp
- Nits are dead or empty egg shells – simply remove these by hand or by combing
So how do you find head lice?
If you’re feeling unsure don’t worry, you’re not alone – 1 in 4 parents aren’t sure how to check for head lice properly. To diagnose a case of head lice you need to find them alive. This is when you need to use a treatment. They move fast and are small – from the size of a full stop to a sesame seed – so they can be hard to find!
Sizing Up Head Lice
Head lice range in size from a full stop to a sesame seed.
How to Peek
- Good lighting is important and so is comfort
- Comb for lice, parting hair in small sections and return from time to time to areas you’ve already covered just to make sure
- Combing through thick, curly hair will be more difficult so a good idea is to dampen the hair and comb through with a normal comb first to remove any tangles
- You can also oil the hair using a light oil, such as grape-seed, which will help let the fine-tooth nit comb pass through easier during your search
- If head lice are spotted, take a close look at all the family, including yourself and ask close family and friends to check as well.
REMEMBER – if you find head lice on one member of your family you need to check everybody to make sure they don’t have them as well.
Guide to Combing
It is best to check for head lice using a comb made for the purpose. Ideally white, so that lice can be easily seen, and with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart in order to trap head lice.
Research has shown that detection combing is nearly four times more effective than visual inspection for finding live lice.
Protecting Against Head Lice
If there is no sign of head lice but you still believe your child may be at risk of infection, following an outbreak warning from the school or with a sleep-over approaching, rest assured there are steps you can take to protect your child’s hair.
The latest products work by breaking the life cycle of the head lice, stopping them from breeding and migrating. Look for a product with proven efficacy from a trusted brand or speak with your pharmacist about your options.
If you find live lice, firstly, don’t worry. Head lice are a normal part of life and are nothing to be embarrassed, panicked or ashamed about.
How to Get Rid of Head Lice
There are FOUR principle types of head lice treatment:
- Non-pesticide treatments
- Pesticide treatments
- Wet combing with conditioner
- Alternative treatments
Non Pesticide Treatments
Non-pesticide lotions work in a different way from conventional pesticide treatments. They kill the lice by coating and either stripping away their waxy coating, causing them to dehydrate or blocking the opening to their air tubes, disrupting their ability to manage water. These physical mode of actions mean there is theoretically no chance for the lice to build up a resistance. There are three main active ingredients currently in use, dimeticone, isopropyl and activdiol.
Pesticide based treatments have been around for many years but there is now evidence that head lice already have, and continue to, develop resistance to some of them. There are two main types which work by poisoning the lice but evidence suggests that levels of resistance to these treatments are rising.
Wet Combing with Conditioner
Some people may wish to remove lice physically, the most established of these methods is wet combing with conditioner. Wet combing removes lice and nits but does take time and patience to ensure a thorough job is done. It’s quite easy to miss a few and needs to be done twice a week for at least two weeks.
Many products currently on the market opt for a natural approach to treating head lice and contain ingredients like tea tree oil and lavender oil. These formulations do lack published clinical evidence on the products proven effectiveness.
How to Apply Head Lice Treatment
- Treatment should only be applied if a living, moving louse has been found – never ‘just in case‘.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure the treatment is left on for the recommended time.
- When applying treatment, cover the full length of the hair if specified in the treatment instructions
- Keep the lotion out of the eyes and off the face – don’t use a hair dryer unless instructions say that you can, and keep away from flames, stoves, cigarettes and other sources of heat.
- Most treatments require them to be repeated seven days after the first application to kill any nymphs which have hatched since the first treatment was applied. The checking process should be repeated a couple of days after treatment to ensure that all the head lice have been killed.
Once head lice have been identified, treatment has been applied but there is one final step. It is time to repeat the checking process.
- Check that all head lice have gone within 2-3 days of the final application to complete the treatment
- If the pack instructions specify that a second application is required, repeat the treatment for a second time, seven days after the first, to kill any lice that may hatch from eggs during that time
- Continue to check for head lice on a regular, weekly basis. Remember – Once a Week, Take a Peek
What if They are Still There?
If you still find live lice after you finish the treatment either it’s failed or there has been a re-infestation. If the treatment failed you’ll usually find lice of all life stages but a re-infestation will usually consist of a few adult lice.
You’ll Need to Treat Again so Make Sure:
- If you’re using a pesticide change to a different type of treatment
- You read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly
- You use enough treatment to cover the whole head and full length of hair. Remember root to tip = full coverage
- You leave the treatment on for long enough as per the instructions
- You complete the full treatment course – 2 applications
- If for some reason the problem persists, see your local pharmacist or GP for advice.
Should Your Child Stay Home?
If your children are checked for head lice on a weekly basis and treated straight away when live lice are found then they can attend school, child care and all other activities just as usual. But remind them to avoid head-to-head contact with other children until all the lice are gone.
How to Check for Head Lice:
- Diagnosis of head lice infection cannot be made with certainty unless a living, moving louse is found – no matter how many nits are present, how many reported cases there are in school or how bad the itch is
- If somebody has nits it doesn’t necessarily mean they have head lice – when you have got rid of all the lice, the nits will remain stuck to the hair until they grow out or they are combed out
- Parents should check their children’s hair regularly, ideally once a week – a good way for parents to remember this is ONCE A WEEK, TAKE A PEEK
- Remember, the presence of head lice will not always cause people to itch straight away, it can take over a month before this symptom develops
- It is best to check for head lice using a comb made for the purpose, ideally white so they can be easily seen and with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart in order to trap head lice – research has found detection combing was nearly four times more effective than visual inspection for finding live lice
- Combing through the hair using a conditioner may make the process more comfortable
- Good lighting is important and so is comfort
- Checking for head lice shouldn’t be considered a big deal, it is just a normal part of a family’s personal hygiene routine like brushing teeth or washing hair