People of a certain age will undoubtedly be familiar with the legendary ‘Nitty Nora’, the once ubiquitous, but now defunct, nit nurse from their childhood. It was Nitty Nora’s regular school visits that usually struck fear into most children’s souls, terrified that she would discover head lice ensconced on their bonces. These pin-head sized grey-brown, wingless insects, live by sucking blood from the scalp, and leave their eggs (tiny white specks commonly known as nits), glued to the base of hairs. Head lice are transferred by close hair-to-hair contact, which makes them common in schoolchildren, particularly between the ages of 4 and 11. However, anyone with hair – child or adult – can catch them. Head lice cannot jump, swim or fly, so they’re not quite the all-action heroes we might think. However, contrary to popular belief, they have no preference whatsoever as to the cleanliness or style of a host’s hair.
How to treat headlice
The most effective way to get rid of a head lice infestation is to employ the wet-combing method. Wet-combing involves carefully combing the hair from the scalp outwards, using a specially designed fine-toothed comb with spacing of less than 0.3mm. Although a painstaking process wet-combing has the advantage that no medicated products are required and the lice can’t build up a resistance to the method. Moving from the scalp outwards, covering the whole of the head, the comb should collect the lice and eggs between its teeth, preventing further infestation.
Medicated sprays and lotions:
The alternative to the wet-combing method is to invest in specially designed sprays and lotions. It is important to note that no spray or lotion will be 100% effective against head lice and they are best used in conjunction with wet-combing. Depending on the product and the length and density of hair, sprays and lotions need to be left on the scalp for anywhere between 10 minutes and 8 hours. Normal advice is to treat hair with medicated sprays and lotions again a week after the first application to make sure that the infestation has been cleared. Any pharmacist will be able to give advice and provide over the counter sprays and lotions.
Heat treatment process:
As lice are fond of warm damp environments, treating the scalp with heat is another possible method of removing head lice. The best way of removing lice in this way is employing a professional to kill the lice by drying them out. This treatment will however cost a minimum of £50 and is not available in all areas.
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