Get­ting rid of pesky un­wel­come lodgers

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY -

When young chil­dren put their heads to­gether over books and play then out­breaks of head lice are likely. Head scratch­ing is a sign, but some peo­ple get a ‘tick­ling’ feel­ing of some­thing mov­ing in their hair.

There’s no need to be em­bar­rassed – even the clean­est heads get them. But, they are per­sis­tent crea­tures so you need to be per­sis­tent to get rid of them.

‘‘Come and talk to us’’, say Self Care phar­ma­cists, ‘‘for ad­vice about treat­ing and con­trol­ling head lice. The Head Lice Self Care fact card has a pic­ture so if you are not sure what they look like, ask us for a copy of the card,’’ Self Care phar­ma­cists sug­gest.

Head lice are small flat in­sects, about two or three mil­lime­tres long, that live on the hu­man scalp and feed on blood. They crawl through and climb up the hair, clutch­ing tightly with their claw-like legs (they do not jump or fly). When chil­dren have their heads touch­ing, lice move easily from head to head.

Adult lice move all over the scalp, so to search for them and re­move them it is best to wet the hair, ap­ply con­di­tioner, and comb with a fine­tooth comb. Wipe the comb with a tis­sue to see whether or not lice are present. Con­tinue to do this un­til you can find no more in­sects. Re­peat this pro­ce­dure each day for the next 10-14 days.

The eggs (nits) – which are found stuck firmly to the base of the hair, es­pe­cially the back of the neck and be­hind the ears – are dif­fi­cult to re­move by comb and need to be pulled out (or killed by squash­ing be­tween fin­ger­nails so they ‘pop’.

Leav­ing them means they hatch (within 7-10 days of be­ing laid) and start the cy­cle again. That is why, each day for 10-14 days you need to re­peat the wet comb­ing method – so you get any lice that hatch from eggs you have missed.

The al­ter­na­tive to phys­i­cally re­mov­ing lice and eggs is to use a spe­cial head lice treat­ment.

Your Self Care phar­ma­cist can ad­vise you about the dif­fer­ent types and sug­gest one best suited to your child.

‘‘It is im­por­tant to use these treat­ments cor­rectly so read, and fol­low, the in­struc­tions care­fully’’, ad­vise Self Care phar­ma­cists.

‘‘Treat­ments need to be re­peated in a week’s time be­cause you won’t get all the eggs the first time; you have to get them when they hatch.’’

Us­ing the ‘con­di­tion and comb’ method, check the hair for live lice 24 to 48 hours af­ter treat­ment.

Be sure to fol­low the prod­uct di­rec­tions and re­peat the course as in­structed. Do NOT use an­i­mal flea or lice treat­ments on hu­mans!

Par­ents of­ten ask how to pre­vent their chil­dren from get­ting head lice. Here are some sim­ple steps: • Brush their hair thor­oughly, ev­ery day – this can kill or in­jure lice and pre­vent them lay­ing eggs. Peo­ple should have their own brushes and combs, and not share.

• Once a week, check your child’s hair for lice – the sooner you de­tect lice, the sooner you can treat and pre­vent them from spread­ing.

• Tell your child’s teacher if your child gets head lice so other par­ents can be in­structed to check their chil­dren, who may be the source of in­fes­ta­tion and con­tinue re-in­fest­ing oth­ers.

For more in­for­ma­tion about head lice treat­ment and preven­tion, talk to your Self Care phar­ma­cist and ask for a copy of the Head Lice Self Care fact card.

Pre­pared by Phar­macy Self Care, Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of NZ Inc.

Lice and their eggs (nits) are vis­i­ble to the naked eye. Most of­ten it is the nits which are seen, since they are static, round and white and at­tached to the hair strands close to the scalp.

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