We’ve had a fun time in our house the last couple of weeks trying to rid my youngest son of head lice. He’s in prep, and I noticed him scratch, scratch, scratching the other week. Sure enough, I checked his head and there they were – headlice!
Cue scratching from the whole family (although it was only the youngest who had them, thankfully). I can remember having headlice as a child, and the horrible chemical preparations my mum used on me to get rid of them. When we were talking about this the other day, mum was telling me that none of them worked, and she eventually poured metho over my hair and scalp. It did kill them, but apparently it burnt my forehead!
Thank goodness, we know a bit more about lice these days. I did a bit of googling, and came up with the following useful information about how to prevent and control head lice in your family.
1. You don’t need to wash everything in the house to get control head lice
Headlice feed on human blood, not on animals, and they need to feed 3-4 times a day. They dehydrate and die within 6 hours in a dry climate, and within 24 hours in a humid climate.
There’s no need to wash everything, as the lice will not survive.
2. You do need to wash hats and pillowcases to get rid of lice
Wash hats and pillowcases at 60 degrees celcius, or dry them in the tumble dryer on the warm or hot setting to kill them.
3. Headlice can’t jump
Head lice can’t jump – they have no knees! They can’t fly, either, as they have no wings. They can (and do) crawl from head to head, and can be transmitted by sharing things like hats and hairbrushes.
4. The best non-chemical treatment for head lice is conditioner and a fine tooth comb
Put any kind of hair conditioner on to dry, brushed hair. The conditioner stuns the lice, and allows you to comb them out easily.
Divide the hair into small sections, and comb through carefully with a fine tooth comb. Wipe the comb onto a piece of tissue or paper towel, and you’ll be able to see whether there are any lice or any eggs.
Comb through each section of hair 4 or 5 times.
Wash the nit comb out with very hot water to kill any remaining eggs.
Yes, we know how tedious this is. It’s even more tedious if you’ve got daughters with long hair. There’s always a silver lining, however. Look upon it as an excuse to spend time with your children, and chat to them about their day. Alternatively, you could do as we did, and watch Frozen together!
5. Prevent re-infection by repeating the treatment
Repeat the conditioner and fine tooth comb treatment every third day for 10 days until no more live head lice can be found.
6. No need to treat everyone in the family for head lice
Fortunately, you only need to treat the person who has the head lice. The whole family doesn’t need to be treated, although it’s a good idea to check everyone periodically – and you’ll all be scratching whether you’ve got them or not!
7. Try prevention with the homemade head lice remedy of tea tree oil
Pop a couple of drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle with some water, and spray on to hair before school. Supposedly the head lice don’t like the tea tree oil smell!
8. If you’re using a chemical head lice prevention preparation, you’ll need to alternate
Lice can become immune to chemical preparations, so if you do choose to use an over the counter, chemical preparation be prepared to change treatments each time.
I’m happy to report that we seem to be head lice free now. We did have one round of re-infestation, but having used the conditioner and fine tooth comb method to control head lice, and ensuring that we did the conditioner and combing every few days for ten days to control the whole nit life cycle – we’re free of head lice.
Not sure how long we’ll be free, though, as I watched my son give three of his friends a big head-to-head hug in the playground as we left school!
More information can be found at the Victorian Government Health website. Check out the Victorian Government’s handy PDF guide to preventing and controlling head lice here.
What’s your top tips for preventing and controlling head lice? Let us know in the comments below.
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