Parenting

Head lice

Long haired girl treated for head lice

Kristen sighed with frustration. Her daughter Anita had come home yet again from daycare, with a note warning about another outbreak of head-lice. Taking a deep breath, Kristen began what had become a regular Friday night ritual known by her children as “nit patrol.” Sure enough, as she combed conditioner through her daughter’s hair using a fine comb, there were the telltale eggs. It was the third outbreak in as many weeks.
Head-lice, also known as nits are the bane of existence for many parents. They are tiny insects without wings. They are about 2-3 mm long, with 6 legs, each with a claw at the end. They crawl quickly, but the absence of wings and knees means they can’t fly or jump.

Unfortunately, a simple visual check isn’t sufficient to detect them. Often, the first parents know of them is when their child complains of an itchy scalp, or when they receive formal notification from their child’s daycare or school.

However, a new recommendation from Australia’s cleaning guru Shannon Lush has been to use orange juice ( pure, not concentrate or “fruit drink”) in conjunction with the tried and tested “condition and comb” method.

According to Lush: “Orange juice is such a toxic insecticide, the lice will die.” For parents who have concerns about using chemicals on their child’s hair this is an excellent place to start treatments.

While hair conditioner doesn’t kill lice, it stuns them, meaning they do not move around, and it’s difficult for them to hang on. This gives parents time to comb through the hair with a lice comb.

1) You need a pure orange juice, a bottle of conditioner, a fine head-lice comb and a box of tissues. These can be purchased from your local pharmacy.
2) Simply pour orange juice over your child’s hair like shampoo and leave it on for 10 minutes
3) Run a lice comb through the hair. The juice kills the live lice and loosens the eggs so they should strip straight off the hair
4) You should make sure that the combs you use are soaked in hot water as Lice die in hot water at 60C in 30 seconds
5) On the following day, apply generous amounts of conditioner to your child’s hair.
6) Brush through your child’s hair firstly using a regular brush. This will make fine combing much less stressful for your child.
7) Comb your child’s hair in sections from the scalp to the tip of the hair
8) Check the comb after each brush through to see if nits are present.
9) You will need to repeat this process every 2 days until no live lice have been found for 10 days.

If you find that this method is not working for your child you should consult with your pharmacist as to what other treatments are suitable for them. There are plenty of treatments on the market. It is important to use them exactly as it says on the container. Some may need to be on for at least 8 hours, while some need only a few minutes.

Other practical steps parents can take are to ensure you tie your child’s hair back and use hairspray on it every day. Alternatively, a small spray of tea tree oil on your child’s hair on a daily basis is an excellent way to repel them. It is also important to wash pillowcases and bed-sheets as live lice can live up to 2 days off the scalp. Parents should check all family members, including themselves as well for signs of head-lice

For Kristen, ridding her daughter’s hair of head-lice involved perseverance. But once she had eradicated them, she consistently used daily preventative measures and thankfully Anita remained nit free.