Head lice are a normal part of childhood and most parents have the task of eradicating lice in their family on at least one occasion. Whilst you may think you’ve become a dab hand at lice busting, can you answer the below questions correctly? Head lice expert, Ian Burgess, is here to help.
1) What ARE head lice?
“Head lice are small wingless insects that live on the scalp, feeding from the blood. Baby lice are extremely small but mature within 10 days and only after that are they able to reproduce, with numbers growing more slowly than most people think. Females lay several viable eggs a day and adult lice can live for as long as a month. They can be treated using Hedrin’s All-In-One Shampoo (RRSP £9.99, 100ml) that works within 5 minutes and is the fastest treatment time on the market.
2) How do they spread?
“Lice are spread only by head-to-head contact, so sleepovers, after-school activities, playing with friends and visiting family are the most common places for children to pick them up and pass them on.”
3) How do you know if you’ve got them (as the child and as the parent looking)?
“Although the best known symptom is the itching, only about 30% of people consciously itch when they have lice. The only true way of knowing is by conducting regular checks with a head lice detection comb. Head lice can be uncomfortable, prevent sleep and concentration, and can make someone a target for bullying. It is best for parents to check for head lice using a comb specifically made for the purpose – ideally white, so that lice can be easily seen and with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart. Research has shown that detection combing is nearly four times more effective than visual inspection for finding live lice. Adult lice are around 2-4mm long and immature lice are even smaller, living close to the scalp. Nits are dead or empty shells, which can be removed with the finger nails or a removal comb. This process can be made easier with Hedrin Stubborn Egg Loosening Lotion.”
4) Why are children more prone to getting lice? And girls?
“Children are more prone, 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 do tend to be more likely to get lice as they tend to play more closely together with greater head-to-head contact than boys. But there are still certainly plenty of boys and men with lice.”
5) Are there any preventative measures?
“Avoidance tactics will not stop you from catching head lice although minimising head to head contact can help. Hedrin has a clinically proven head lice protection spray called Protect & Go. It helps protect children from the parasites by breaking the life cycle and killing lice before an infestation can be established. The spray is also kind to children’s hair and should be used as part of the regular cleaning regime, much the same as cleaning teeth or using shampoo.”
6) If you’ve got them, what should you do?
“If you find live lice, firstly, don’t worry. Head lice are a normal part of life and there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Research suggests lice have become resistant to traditional pesticide treatments, so pick a non-pesticide treatment which will work by smothering the lice and either stripping them of their waxy coating, causing them to dehydrate, or disrupting their ability to manage water. These physical modes of action mean there is theoretically no chance for the head lice to build up a resistance. Try a treatment containing dimeticone or octanediol. If you’re unsure about treatment options, speak to your pharmacist.”
7) Are treatments still as overpowering as I remember them as a kid, or are there gentler versions now?
“No – the new physically acting treatments are often odourless, non-stinging, easy to use and kind to skin and hair.”
8) What’s the key ingredient that kills them and is there a natural alternative?
“With non-pesticide treatments, the key ingredients in use are dimeticone, octanediol and isopropyl myristate. There is very little evidence to show that natural remedies, such as tea tree oil, are effective in eradicating head lice.”
9) Does the whole family need to be treated?
“Only if you find live lice on other members of the family. There is no need to treat ‘just in case’.”
10) What would happen if you left nits untreated?
“Nits are the hatched or dead eggs. They remain on the hair as long as the hair is on the head, becoming more visible as the hair grows, and having them on your hair will make no difference to the hair or to you. However, leaving living head lice untreated, thus leading to a long term infection, can make a child irritable and could result in a secondary bacterial infection.”
11) Is it true lice prefer clean hair?
“Having head lice has nothing to do with personal hygiene. Head lice can live on all types of hair and no preference exists between clean or dirty hair.”
12) Does the ‘nit nurse’ still exist in schools?
“No! Employing a nit nurse is not an effective method of controlling head lice. To adhere to best practice, each of the 5.5 million primary school children in the UK would need to be checked by the nit nurse once every week. So the likelihood of each child receiving a thorough check is minimal at best. Even if the nit nurse checked and found lice it would still be up to the parents to choose and use a treatment. Parents need to feel empowered to check for head lice regularly and feel confident about using an appropriate treatment when an infestation is found. The website www.onceaweektakeapeek.co.uk has some great advice for parents on managing and treating head lice.”
13) Is it true that there’s a new breed of superlice in Britain which have built up resistance to head lice treatments?
“Britain is not set to be invaded by and epidemic of lice, super or otherwise. Recent reports of these emanate from the US where traditional pesticides are still widely used. Only a small minority of Britons use traditional insecticide treatments and modern physically-acting products are not affected by resistance. The fact that head lice are still with us in the UK is not due to products not working, even though some are more effective than others, but because people often don’t use them in a coordinated manner. For example, if your child comes home with head lice and you treat the infestation but some of the children in the class remain untreated, the infestation will continue to spread.
Try Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo kills lice in just 5 minutes, the fastest treatment time available in the UK, and is twice as effective as combing alone, leaving hair fresh and clean. For parents that want to deal with head lice as part of the evening bath routine, Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo provides a simple solution that can be incorporated seamlessly into bath time.
Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo is allergy certified, skin friendly, easy to use and does not have a nasty odour, making it an obvious choice for quick and straightforward head lice treatment.
Ian Burgess head lice expert, comments: “It is important to deal with head lice promptly to prevent the infestation from spreading further. By eradicating lice in just 5 minutes, Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo makes treating head lice simpler and easier for parents. What’s more, hair will be left fresh and clean, which is an added bonus!”
Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo does not contain pesticides; therefore, lice cannot build up a resistance to the product, meaning it will work every time.
After using Hedrin All-In-One Shampoo, a further check should be carried out one week after application to make sure that no lice or eggs have managed to escape treatment. If any live lice are discovered then the shampoo should be re-applied.
Available to buy from Boots, priced at RRSP £9.99 (100ml), RRSP £14.99 (200ml). Visit www.hedrin.co.uk for further information.
Disclosure – we have been gifted some Hedrin products so we can be prepared and in return for sharing this useful article.