How to get rid of head lice in your child’s hair!

Stop the itching and get rid of head lice in your child’s hair once and for all!

Head lice checks in school

Head lice checks in school

Are your children scratching their heads more often than usual? If they are, it might indicate a case of head lice! Worried that it is dangerous or might spread a disease? We’ll tell you all about it.

What are head lice?

Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that affect only humans and live by sucking blood from the scalp. In appearance, an adult louse looks like a fat sesame seed on the scalp. They lay eggs in cases (nits) and reproduce quickly, although their actual life cycle is just a month long.The nits are off-white or tan in colour and can’t easily be brushed off like a dandruff flake.

Head lice can affect individuals of all ages but are more prominent amongst children between the ages of 4 and 11. One of the most telltale signs of head lice in your child’s hair is constant head scratching and irritated skin on the scalp, neck or behind the ears.

Hazards

Head lice in your child’s hair don’t possess health hazards but their infestation is totally gross and is highly contagious. It is also extremely common. In fact a survey of 308,101 schoolchildren conducted in 10 of 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia revealed that 10.7% have head lice.

Contrary to popular belief, head lice don’t jump or fly to another person’s head. The only way they can spread is through borrowing of comb, brushes, or hat or sleeping or playing extremely close to a person with lice, so that a louse literally just “walks” over.

Elimination of head lice

1. Head lice medicine (pediculicide)

Medical treatments involve using either alcohol or water-based lotions. These lotions are usually applied to the hair, left to dry naturally and then rinsed out the following morning.  Some of these lotions like Malathion Shampoo or Lotion can be bought off the counter at Guardian, though we highly recommend speaking to your PD before using any chemical treatment, especially on your younger children or if you are breasfeeding.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Many believe that Tea tree oil is beneficial to kill head lice though its effectiveness has yet to be scientifically proven. Be sure to have a chat with your PD or pharmacist before using it your child’s head or hair as it may cause allergic reactions.

3. Coconut oil

A study conducted in Isreal amongst 940 children found using a natural mixture of coconut oil, ylang ylang oil and anise oil on a child’s head successfully killed head lice off nearly 93% of infected kids.

4. Comb out

Head lice comb

Head lice comb

A thorough comb-out using a special fine-tooth (nitty-gritty) lice comb can successfully eradicate the dead lice and nits. You can find these combs at Guardian pharmacy or Unity pharmacy. We have also spotted the comb at Mustaffa centre. It’s best to buy the metal versions of the comb as they are more durable, but if you can’t get hold of it, the plastic version suffices.

First wash your child’s hair using his/her normal shampoo. Apply conditioner all over the wet hair so that the lice lose their grip on the hair and begin combing with a normal comb. Then use the nit comb for 30 minutes moving from root to tip, working through the entire head extremely thoroughly. Try to repeat the procedure daily for around 2 weeks until you are sure there are no more lice. Do also make sure that you do the combing while sitting in the balcony or outdoors and preferably sitting on a white cloth/bench during the day so you can actually see the nits.

5. Herbal shampoos

There are some natural, herbal shampoos that you can use to eradicate the bugs. Options include Native essentials, ecokid prevent shampoo 

 

head lice in children's hair

Head lice in a child’s hair

Avoiding future infestation

Although lice usually die within 24 hours if separated from the head, a complete home cleaning is also recommended together with the shampoo treatment. This will not only prevent getting lice again but it eases everyone’s mind too.

1. Soak all combs and brushes in the houses in hot, soapy water for at least ten minutes.

2. Wash any hats, scarves, hair ties and towels with hot water and dry in a hot setting.

3. Vacuum all upholstered furniture pieces, pillows, car seats and strollers repeatedly.

4. Wash all the sheets on the child’s bed.

5. Cover furniture with a plastic cover for two weeks.

6. Seal stuffed toys in a plastic bag for 2 weeks or place them in the freezer for 24 hours. This is to ensure that the lice dies as they have nothing to feed on.

To prevent future head lice in your child’s hair, remind them not to borrow anyone’s comb, brushes or hats. Children with long hair should always wear ponytails or braids.

Additional things to note:

1. Do check everyone in the household for headlice

2. Do call up your child’s school to inform them that you child has head lice

3. There is no need to call for fumigation of your home or a pest control company to come and spray your home

4. Head lice do not live on pets. Pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice.

Have you ever found head lice in your child’s hair? How did you manage the infestation? We’d love to hear your story!

If you want to learn how to comb out lice, watch this video: