Having been a Nanny for 14 years it’s a given that over those years I have had to deal with those pesky bugs a few times, there is nothing to be embarrassed about and they can be found on all hair types, boys and girls, adults and children.
We all dread being handed those letters by our children at the school doors stating that there are headlice in your child’s class, it makes us itch and instantly you may begin to feel dirty – there is no need to worry however as headlice really aren’t picky at all they will happily invade the head of someone who washes their hair dairy as well as those who are more weekly hair washers.
While there is no sure fire way of completely stopping those pests from invading there are a few things you can do to help to help keep them at bay a little:
- Check your child’s hair regularly
Make it a weekly occurrence, pick a day and make it a bonding experience – pop on a movie, read a book together, talk about your week, get the homework done – anything you can do to pass the time while keeping still at the same time.
- Look out for scratching
One of the first signs of headlice is scratching of the scalp, if your child starts to scratch then do make sure you re-check their hair. Catching them early on is far easier than waiting for them to lay eggs and those hatch.
Check for tiny red bite marks on their necks and behind their ears.
- Preventative sprays and shampoos
Tea-Tree oil will repel headlice, making them easier to comb out of hair. If you use a shampoo containing Tea-Tree (eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, and lemongrass oils are also good repellents) it will help to prevent further outbreaks. There are also preventative sprays and mousses which can be sprayed daily onto dry hair to help repel – KIT & COCO and Headrin are just a few examples.
- Keep long hair tied back
With children all huddling together over school desks it is easy for headlice to pass from head to head. Keeping hair tied back will at least minimise this a little better
- Don’t share brushes, combs and hats
Headlice can live for around 1 or 2 days off of a human head, sharing brushes with a friend or even family member can mean they are easily transferred
- Wash pillowcase, coats, hats etc.
If you do discover your child has headlice then make sure you not only treat their hair but wash things their hair has come into contact with – pillowcases, towels, coats and hats for example. Putting into the tumble dryer for at least 15 minutes will also kill the lice.
Lice and nits
- Head lice are tiny grey/brown insects. They are about the size of a sesame seed. Head lice cling to hairs but stay close to the scalp which they feed off. Head lice lay eggs which hatch after 7 to 10 days. It takes about 7 to 10 days for a newly hatched louse to grow into an adult and start to lay eggs.
- Nits are the empty white eggshells which are left when the lice hatch. Nits look like dandruff but stick strongly to hair. Unlike dandruff, you cannot easily brush out nits.
How to check hair for headlice/nits
I personally find it easy to check for headlice when the hair has been freshly washed.
Wash in the usual way with shampoo and rinse out, then add a good amount of conditioner and leave in.
Detangle all of the hair.
As Emmy has thick and curly hair I choose to use a Tangle Teezer brush designed for Thick & Curly hair, it can be can be used on wet or dry hair and is one of the only brushes I have found will actually tackle her thick and unmanageable mane. It banishes tangles, knots and helps prevent breakage and damage, with a unique two-tiered system technology – the long teeth detangle and the short teeth smooth the hair cuticle for healthier-looking, glossier hair. It is also a very easy brush to wash out and to remove old hair from.
Once detangled switch over to a nit comb (a special fine-toothed comb), section hair into manageable sections and take your time.
starting from the top make sure the comb touches the scalp and glide down the hair, wipe the comb on kitchen roll or toilet roll to help you to spot any lice.
When the whole head has been combed rinse out the conditioner and repeat to make sure not have been missed.
If you do find any headlice
Purchase some headlice treatment – there are lots of different types on the market, not all are used in the same way so make sure you read the instructions on the bottle.
You will probably need to repeat in a week to catch any eggs which may have by now hatched – do read the label.
Check everyone in the family, and keep checking until all gone. Also inform friends your child has been playing with and the school (they won’t mention your child by name but will help to inform the other parents to check their children’s hair thus helping to avoid a repeat cycle spreading around the class).
Wash bedding, coats, brushes etc.
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