SCHOOLS ARE NOTORIOUS FOR NITS, especially after summer holidays.
Spare a thought for the teacher in a classroom full of head-scratching kids. You can almost picture them going home at the end of the day and face-planting in a pool of calamine lotion. Not that it would help…
Preventing nits is all but impossible. Tying back long hair helps. And to stay away from school altogether is impractical, to say the least.
You simply wait for nits to come to a head near you, then go in with treatment.
Your local chemist will probably have nit treatments that could hardly be more dramatically named, products such as Lice Attack, Lice Blaster, Pyrenel or KP24. Among the herbal alternatives is the Wild Child Quit Nits Complete Lice Kit.
Discovering nits doesn’t mean going into household lockdown. Lice don’t laze around on your pillowcases, or hide in your hair brushes, waiting for their next meal.
They don’t fly. Nor do they jump, like fleas. And they don’t make temporary homes on domestic pets.
Lice don’t live long without a hairy home. And they don’t survive heat. So, although it’s unnecessary, washing bed linen or drying it in temperatures over 60°C will make you feel better about the situation.
What To Look For
Head lice (Pediculus Capitis) are light grey or brown insects, less than a centimetre in length. They spread when an infested head of hair comes into contact with the head of another unsuspecting person.
For added hair-tearing frustration, lice become resistant to the very chemicals designed to exterminate them. If you’ve followed instructions to the letter and the treatment you bought is not working, sadly you’ll need to try another one.
You will not succeed in killing a lice infestation in one hit. The first treatment should take out the live nits. But you’ll need a second go at them about 7 days later. This is specifically for the benefit of nits that hatch in the meantime.
When you use insecticides or herbal treatments, skin irritation can result, especially for areas already irritated. Contact with the eyes is, of course, to be avoided.
If you notice a bad reaction, the Adverse Medicines Events Line can advise you. Call them on 1300 134 237 (Monday to Friday 9am–5pm AEST; closed Public Holidays).
The Least Toxic Way
Not the most pleasing pastime but it works…
- Get yourself a head lice comb. Metal combs with cylindrical teeth are best. They are more gentle on hair than combs with flat teeth and they won’t break like plastic combs. You might even see electronic combs that promise to shock lice on contact. But they’re not effective on lice eggs and that’s not going to end well for you.
- Find an ample supply of hair conditioner that is white and has a thick consistency. Take an ordinary comb and comb the conditioner through dry hair. This will literally trap lice and eggs in goo.
- Comb the conditioner through all the hair. Leave no area untouched.
- Now with your fine-toothed head lice comb, systematically comb all hair from roots to tips. Wipe the comb onto a tissue to check for nits and their eggs. You’ll know they’re eggs because if you squeeze them, they will pop. I know, right?
- You’ll need to repeat this at least once a week for 2 weeks. Once a week for 3 weeks is better.
Note: If you suspect the lice infestation is widely spread among your child’s friends, it would be wise to coordinate your efforts with their parents to avoid re-infestation.