However well groomed your child may be, the school years are likely to raise the menace of head lice. Consider this: –
– Lice are one of the most common childhood communicable diseases.
– It affects mainly children between the ages of 3 – 10.
Anyone can get Head Lice. Infection is not a measure of child’s or family’s personal cleanliness, socio-economic status or living conditions.
- Head lice cannot hop, jump or fly. They are primarily transmitted through direct contact and the sharing of personal items such as combs.
- Head lice draw blood every 4 – 5 hours. The bites cause itching and discomfort.
- A single louse can lay up to 180 eggs (nits) during a typical 30 day life span. So hundreds of eggs can be found on a single child.
What are the symptoms? Here are a few tips to check for lice:-
- An extremely itchy scalp especially behind the ears and at the back of the neck.
- In natural light part the hair and look carefully at the scalp and bottom of the hair strand. The nits will look like tiny teardrops glued to the hair and will be difficult to dislodge.
- If you discover even one, check all other family members as well. Don’t worry about pets as head lice can only live on people.
For getting rid of lice: –
- Use a specially formulated child anti-lice shampoo.
- Remove them manually. It helps to have two people check for lice as they move quickly and shy away from light.
- Enlist the help of an experienced older person whether a relative, neighbour or maid.
- Consider cutting the hair short. For younger children you can even consider having a mundan.
- If you use the special lice removing comb. Keep dipping into water before going to the next section of hair. The nit may have to be removed manually as they are not picked up by the comb.
- Wash all personal effects with hot water and dry them in the sunlight.
- Anything that can’t be washed or dry-cleaned should be put into a plastic bag, sealed and left for 2 weeks. Lice can’t survive off the scalp for more than 24 hours but their eggs can and they take up to 10 days to hatch.
- Don’t use kerosene or pet shampoo to get rid of head lice as they can be dangerous.
- Vacuuming is the best way to remove lice or fallen hairs with nits from sofas, beds, rugs, stuffed toys and can seats. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, borrow one.
Tip – Boil a handful of neem leaves and basil leave and wash your hair regularly with it to get rid of dandruff and lice.
- Teach your child to be careful of personal hygiene and to not share personal items like combs.
- Report to the school to prevent further infestations.
- Schedule regular checks of hair to prevent reinfestation.