Has your child come home from school with a note to check them for head lice? Or perhaps you’re working in a school and need to make sure you don’t bring the little visitors home with you. Find out how to get rid of nits here, as well as what measures you can take to prevent them from coming back.
Are you scratching your head yet? For me, the mere mention of nits sets me off! We’ve had it a few times at home (I have a young child who regularly seems to bring them home). It’s a problem that can’t be given the “ignore it and hope it goes away” treatment. If you suspect that you or anyone in your household has nits, it is essential that you carefully check every head and treat as appropriate.
What are nits?
Most people refer to nits as the small egg of a head louse which is attached to the base of a hair on the human head. When they hatch, they become known as lice.
How to get rid of nits
There are lots of methods used for removing head lice/nits. A couple of popular options are:
- Over the counter treatments, which usually involve some sort of solution which needs to be applied to the hair to kill lice as well as a fine comb for removing any remaining eggs, as well as the dead lice once the treatment has been completed. However, these can be expensive, so it might be worth trying something else first.
- Hair conditioner is also thought to be an effective treatment. Simply thoroughly wash the hair, apply plenty of conditioner. Leave it in for 5-10 mins and then carefully comb the hair through with a nit comb.
About 3-4 days after the initial treatment, it’s really important that you re-check hair to ensure that it is clear of nits. Just a single egg left behind can put you back to square 1 – so remember to repeat your nit checks after a few days.
Prevent them from returning
You can’t simply hang a sign that says “nits not welcome here” and hope that they go away. But there are a few measures you can take to help prevent them from returning. Some of the things you can try are:
- Teaching your children not to share hats or touch heads with other children. Nits can’t jump to other heads (contrary to popular belief) so you can only get them through direct physical contact with other nitty heads! By explaining to your children that they can stop the nits from getting onto their heads by keeping their hats to themselves, and by not leaning their heads against other children’s heads, you can help prevent them from spreading.
- Wash hats! After ridding your child of nits, wash hats, pillow cases etc – anything that their head has prolonged contact with that might just have an egg or two left behind in it. While it’s not as likely that you’ll get nits this way, it is still possible so it’s worth doing a through vacuum or washing any textiles that might harbour eggs.
- Spread the word. Group treatment is really the key here. If just one individual in a class fails to check for nits and treat them as appropriate, an infestation can take hold again in no time, so make a point of mentioning to other parents at pick up/drop off time in case they didn’t see the note that was brought home by their child.
What if my child hates having their hair washed?
If you have an anxious child who doesn’t like to have their hair washed, or who is freaking out about the idea of having insects living in their hair, you may need to approach the situation with a more well thought out plan. You could try turning it into a game (who wants to play hair dressers?!) Or you could talk about what is going to happen and what reward is on offer if your child lets you treat them without making a big fuss. You know your child best, so will have a pretty good idea of what might work for them, so sitting down and coming up with a plan before you launch into treatment could help to reduce anxiety all round. (I let my child have a “late night” and watch his iPad with a lolly pop while I did his and it worked a treat – he sat still and let me get on with it for about half an hour!)
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