I remember the night. I was breastfeeding my 4 month old baby in the middle of the night during the start of the Christmas holidays. Sat in my breastfeeding chair I could feel my head itching. I thought nothing of it – I hadn’t had head lice since I was at primary school so why should I have them now?! Plus my son had really short hair. He was in nursery but surely he couldn’t have got them?
I left it two weeks until the end of the Christmas holidays thinking it was just an itch, but it just got worse and worse! I had to find out so went out to get the comb and whatever stuff you use to treat it. The annoying thing was that when I checked Sam’s hair he didn’t have any – he had just passed them all to my nice long hair!! I was devastated to have to admit I had headlice as a grown up. So now I am insistent on not ever getting them again.
Getting ahead with head lice
For all those joyful hours that the children play together and the memories they share, unfortunately the close contact and endless selfies, brings an increased risk of head lice infestation – so as parents we need to be prepared! Luckily, with the help of Ian Burgess, head lice expert, Hedrin have put together a brief guide to getting ahead of head lice.
If in doubt, check it out
Head lice expert Ian Burgess, explains, “Head lice can appear at any place and any time, so there is no need to avoid certain situations, but just be vigilant and ensure that you check your child’s hair regularly. Some parents wait until their child starts to scratch, however, not all infestations cause an itching sensation.
Firstly, to diagnose a case of head lice, you need to find them alive. Lice range in size from a full stop to a sesame seed and they remain close to the scalp, however, you will need to check all over from the back of the head to behind the ears and under the fringe.”
How to check – remember the three C’s
• Comb: Use a fine toothcomb, with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart to ensure that you can trap them and ideally use a white comb so they are more visible.
• Conditioner: To ensure the process is as hassle free as possible, try combing the hair when it is wet and use a conditioner as a lubricant. This will allow the comb to glide through easily without causing any fuss.
• Comfort: As the process should be part of your weekly routine, make sure they are comfortable and distract your child with their favourite TV programme, this will ensure you can check for lice quickly and thoroughly.
Treat and defeat
Ian continues, “If you find lice, don’t panic, head lice are a normal part of life. You should use a non-pesticide treatment that smothers the lice instead of poisoning them. Research suggests that lice have become resistant to traditional pesticide treatments so they are less effective although most people do use a non-pesticide product these days. “Home” remedies are sometimes used by parents, such as dosing the hair in vinegar, mayonnaise and olive oil, however, none of which are clinically proven to eradicate lice. If you are unsure about what treatment to use, speak to your pharmacist.”
How to ensure the treatment is effective
• Remember, only treat if you find live lice. Your pharmacist can advise on protection options if this is what you are looking for.
• It is very important to follow the instructions on the pack and cover the full length of hair until it is saturated for the recommended time.
• Whilst ensuring the product is used thoroughly, it is important to keep it away from your child’s eyes, face and shoulders and ensure you keep the lotion away from heat sources such as hair dryers, naked flames and cigarettes.
Detect and Protect
Once you have completed the course of the treatment, you should check thoroughly to see if there are any live lice left – remember, you need to see them moving. If you do find lice, this could be a result of a failed treatment or a re-infestation. At this point, you will need to treat again and ensure that you follow the instructions carefully.
“It is likely that some of the empty eggs are left behind, as they have a strong bond with the hair and are difficult to remove, these are called nits. Previously the removal process was done by hand or using a comb on dry hair, but ultimately this may cause hair breakage. There are now products available that help loosen the bond between the nits and the hair, to allow them to slide off easily when using a suitable comb. When you are confident that you have got rid of the infestation and the remaining nits, it may be worth considering a protection product as other children are likely to still be carrying lice in their class. Ask your pharmacist for more information.”
The Hedrin range:
Hedrin Once spray gel (60ml £7.49, 100ml £11.99), available from Boots
Hedrin Stubborn Egg Loosening Lotion (RRP £4.99) and as a kit (RRP £7.29) from pharmacies including Boots.
Hedrin Protect & Go (120ml £4.29, 200ml £6.29, 250ml £7.29), available from Boots
Hedrin Head lice Detection Comb is available for £3.49 from pharmacies.
NOTE: We were sent samples of hedrin products to review, but all opinions are my own. Facts and advice provided by Hedrin.