Headlice and nits

Headlice and nits

How does a child get head lice?
It is still often thought that head lice only occurs in children who have dirty hair, due to a lack of hygiene. This is nonsense. Head lice loves clean hair.

Usually head lice occur in children, it is transmitted through direct hair contact. When children play with each other and they happen to have their heads just close together, lice can crawl over. The lice can not jump or fly. If jackets are hanging next to each other in the playgroup, or the nursery, the lice also see a chance to crawl to other coats. The lice can also be transferred through bedding.

Symptoms
In general, itching on the head is the first complaint. The lice make small bite marks to suck up blood which causes the itching. In 50 percent of the cases, the child has no symptoms at all. This helps the louse spread even more easily.

Looking for head lice
It is important to regularly check the head to see if there are nits. This goes as follows. Wash your child's hair first with a regular shampoo. Then apply a generous amount conditioner. Do not rinse, but comb the hair well, using a coarse comb. Glide the comb smoothly through the hair, then continue combing with a lice comb. Always place the teeth of the comb on the scalp, near the hair roots, and then pull it all the way through the hair with a long stroke. You can do this best over a light surface, for example a piece of white paper. That way you can see lice better. Look after every flick with the comb if there are lice. After this, the conditioner can be washed out of the hair and the wet hair has to be combed in the same way.

Treating head lice
Comb your child's hair every day for 2 weeks. You must use a nits comb for this. When the whole hair is combed out, you should let the comb boil for 5 minutes in water or disinfect it with alcohol.

If this doesn't work, use an anti-lice medication. It is available in the form of lotion, shampoo and cream rinse from the pharmacy. Your pharmacist can give you more information.

Read the package leaflet carefully before you use the medicine and also follow the instructions given in the leaflet. People with hay fever, asthma or eczema could be hypersensitive.

Some substances must be left on the hair overnight, with other means a treatment time of 15 minutes is sufficient. If you are going to treat with a lice killer, do not dry the hair with a hair dryer. Let it air dry. The hair should also be treated daily with a lice comb. After a week the hair should be treated with the product again, because there is a possibility that some eggs survived the first treatment.

It is important to inform the management of the playgroup or the nursery, so the parents of classmates can be informed. They also have to check whether there is head lice. If so, the whole family must be treated. Sometimes the treatment does not work. In this case the lice have become immune to the product that has been used. It is best to go to the doctor to ask which treatment method you can use.

Preventing spreading
It is important to prevent recontamination and spreading. Anything that is contaminated, or what could be contaminated, must be properly cleaned. For example bedding, hairbrushes and clothing.

  • The floor covering must be carefully vacuumed, the dust bag must be discarded afterwards. There are also sprays on the market that you can use to cover floor coverings.
  • Clothing, bedding and any cuddly toys must be washed at 60 degrees.
  • Combs are easy to disinfect with alcohol. You can replace hairbrushes easily.

Unfortunately head lice can never be completely prevented. A few tips are:

  • Monitoring your child's head for head lice at least once a week is a good way. If you then find head lice, you can treat during the early stages.
  • Let your child only use his own coat and do not swap at school.
  • Try to keep a space of 15 to 20 cm free when hanging the coats.
  • At the day care center and the playgroup you could hang a plastic bag or lice bag around each coat.

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