Head lice to dead lice!
If you fear your child has head lice, I’ve been going over this topic with a fine tooth comb….literally!
Full disclaimer: this will not be my most glam article. However, as much as I like to talk travel, interiors, wine of the week, etc I do need to deal with life. And lice. And the real life of a Mama to three little people involves a few nasty jobs. This is one of them.
When the ‘lice letter’ comes home from school I’m not sure if my head is instantly itchy because I have lice or because there’s talk of lice. But I’m itchy and itching to check the heads around me! I’ve checked and checked and twice I’ve found. I’ve had that moment where I acknowledge THEY ARE THERE (calm voice used to the children while inwardly screaming!!) and they need to be treated. THEN AND THERE!!!
So, I’ve gone through the process a couple of times with my two eldest boys (6 and 7) and have picked up a couple of tricks. However, I’m no expert so I”ve called on the expertise of in-demand parenting coach and all-round parenting expert, Aoife Lee.
When do they appear?
Although head lice are renowned to make an appearance at the beginning of the school year as well as the new term after Christmas – for parents we need to be vigilant all year round!
How will I know if my child has head lice?
The first noticeable sign we see is our children scratching their scalp, although this is not always the case. Itching is not caused by the lice biting the scalp but by an allergy to the lice.
So, it’s a case of regular checking but especially when you get that ‘lice letter’ from the school informing you of an infestation!
The hair should also be checked for nits (the unhatched eggs), these are pearly grey specks and are smaller than a sesame seed. They are most commonly found around the nape of the neck and behind the ears. Nits stick firmly to the hair! If you see a white speck on the hair shaft, gently place the hair between two fingers and slide the fingers down along it. The difference between dandruff or dust and a nit is that dandruff will readily come away whereas nits stick to the hair and can be felt as the fingers pass over them. Are you scratching yet?!
Down to business – treating the critters!
- Before treatment remove as many eggs and lice as possible using a special fine-toothed comb (available from all chemists)
- Comb the hair carefully down onto a white towel or cloth (so you can easily see any lice or nits that have come away). Adult lice can be removed in this way and will be seen as dark oval specks as they fall onto the towel. If there is unhatched eggs, remove with a finger and thumb, this can be tricky as they wrap themselves around the hair quite firmly.
- A chemical treatment is the way forward, I used one the local pharmacy recommended called ‘Full Marks’ and it worked a treat. You’ll need to apply enough solution to cover both the scalp and the hair. Massage in and leave for five minutes.
- After 5 mins, comb through with the removal comb provided to remove dead lice and any eggs.
- TIP – dip the comb in a bowl of boiling water and the lice will fall into the water easily rather than you trying to scrape them off. YUK!
- Obviously, the instructions may differ depending on the product you buy so follow instructions carefully and take your pharmacists advice too.
- Wash hair as normal afterward but bear in mind it might take a few shampoos to clear the hair of the solution completely.
- It’s worth repeating this entire process in 7 days following initial treatment to ensure they don’t make a return visit!
- Be sure to check other family members as soon as possible.
Nitty Gritty Oil or spray – made by mums, contains natural ingredients, no strong smell, free of chemicals, user-friendly. Can be used as a hair treatment, as a preventative measure as well as a head lice treatment.
LeeLoop – the lice preventing hairband – is infused with essential oils which are designed to repel the lice, approx. €8 for four bands – similar to the repellent sprays however do not contain artificial ingredients or pesticides.
Tea tree products like a good quality tea tree shampoo are said to be great for keeping these bad boys away from little scalps.
Lice aren’t nice obviously but getting rid of them is not as horrible as you first anticipate. For lots more expert parenting tips make sure to follow Aoife Lee at Parentsupport on instagram or visit www.parentsupport.ie