Has my child got Nits?
Back to school can be a hectic time for both parents and children. What we don’t need is to deal with the problem of nits and head lice. At PharmacyKwik we know how important it is to treat head lice quickly and efficiently.
Nits are common amongst children between the ages of 4 and 11. Nits will affect a child through their school career despite measures being taken.
What are nits?
Nits is the name given to the eggs that are laid by the head lice. Live lice emerge from the egg cases (nits). These look like small white specks.
The nits are able to secure themselves tightly to the roots if the hairs. It takes 7-10 days for the eggs to hatch. On day 10-14 the nit has fully matured and is about 2-4mm in length.
What are Headlice?
Head lice are very small wingless insects that when mature have a grey brown appearance. They only affect humans and live by sucking blood from the scalp.
The eggs that they lay are in cases it is these cases that are called nits. Head lice are able to breed very quickly and have a very short life cycle of normally just a month. As the head lice are able to breed so quickly it is important to treat the outbreak as soon as possible
How do I know my child has head lice?
A child with head lice normally complains of an itchy scalp. It helps that schools send out letters to inform parents that there has been an outbreak and to look for nits and head lice. As mentioned earlier in the blog, itching is one of the most common symptoms. Usually an infestation causes itching of the scalp, however this may not be the case as some children don’t have an allergy to nits or headlice and therefore don’t itch. Another symptom is the presence of blood spots on the scalp the blood spots normally show up during an infestation. On inspection of the scalp white egg shells can be seen at the root of the hair. If the nit has hatched then the lice can be seen behind the ears and the nape of the neck. These areas tend to be where the head lice like to live as it tends to be warm and dark.
Is there a non-chemical treatment?
Yes there is! At PharmacyKwik we recommend the non-chemical “wet combing” method of dealing with infestation. When the wet combing method is undertaken correctly it gets rid of nits and head lice effectively therefore not requiring any chemical treatment. Although this is a labourious process this method proves to be very effective as lice are becoming increasingly resistant to chemicals. Wet combing is concentrated on the base of the scalp and the nape of the neck.
What is the wet combing process?
Wet combing involves washing your child’s hair with normal shampoo. Apply a good amount of conditioner all over your child’s wet hair. The conditioner causes the head lice to lose their grip on the hair. Begin to comb the childs hair with a normal comb at first and then a fine tooth comb after.
Work the comb through the childs hair from the root to the tip. It is important to check the comb after each hair sweep for head lice and nits.
You should spend at least half an hour on this procedure working methodically and thoroughly. The process has to be repeated daily or several times in one week, until all the nits and lice have been eliminated. Wet combing should be continued for two weeks to ensure all nits and head lice have been eliminated.
Is there a chemical treatment?
In the majority of cases wet combing will eliminate the infestation however more stubborn infestations may need chemical based treatments. The chemical treatment works by having a good contact time with the childs hair and scalp. Medical treatment comes in two forms water based or alcohol based lotions. The alcohol based lotion are more effective in eradicating nits and lice but are not suitable for children that have sensitive skin or suffer from asthma. Medical treatments must only be used on confirmation of sighting of nits and lice. Alcohol and water based treatments are applied to the childs hair and left to dry naturally. The hair is then usually rinsed or washed out the following morning. To make sure all the eggs and lice have been removed the treatment should be repeated a week later.
The PharmacyKwik need to know facts about head lice.
- Head lice need a warm host e.g. a human scalp so that they can breed and exist.
- Head lice is not caused by dirty hair or poor hygiene. Head lice can be found in all hair types, long hair, short hair, thin hair, thick hair, shiny hair and even coarse hair.
- Head lice are not able to jump fly or swim. They are passed from head to head contact the lice simply walk across from head to head.
- Itching doesn’t take place in all children. Itching comes about due to an allergic reaction therefore causing the itch.