Expert / 12 September, 2022 / My Baba
With Summer over and children finally, back at school, there is one thing that parents are really not looking forward to, and that’s battling head lice. But there is no need to pull your hair out (or more to the point your children’s hair out), as we sit down with one of the mums behind award-winning head lice brand Nitty Gritty to get the low down on ‘beating the bugs’.
First things first, if your child comes home with head lice it’s really important to know that there is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Almost all children will experience head lice at one point or another during their school years, and it really doesn’t have to be too much of an ordeal to get rid of them. Our award-winning comb has helped everyone from A-list celebrities to Royalty finally free their families from head lice.
Head lice are small, wingless, greyish-white insects (they turn a darker grey after they have fed on blood) with flattened, elongated bodies with oval heads. They are about 2-3mm and live on the scalp.
Head lice spend their lifespan in our hair, clinging tightly onto it as soon as they emerge from their eggs. They tend to stay very close to our scalps in order to feed directly from our blood. They often lay their eggs near the temples, behind the ears or at the nape of the neck where it is nice and warm.
Head lice are very good at moving from one host to another during head-to-head contact. When your hair is touching someone else’s, even for a few moments, there is an opportunity for head lice to migrate. This is why they are so prevalent amongst primary school children.
‘Live’ head louse eggs are each glued to an individual hair strand as soon as they are laid. Nits are the empty egg cases, which remain glued in place on the hair as it grows out after the lice have hatched. Nits are often the first visible sign of a head lice infestation.
They are small (about the size of a pinhead), white to cream in colour and they look like a tiny, tiny teardrop securely fastened to the hair shaft.
Female head lice attach each egg to the root of an individual hair strand, very close to the scalp so that when they hatch out, they are very close to their food source. They like to lay their eggs near the temples, behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. Any eggs found more than about 1/2” from the scalp will be the nits (the empty egg cases), which remain glued to the hair shaft and grow out as our hair grows.
Eggs take approximately one week to hatch but can be anything from 7-13 days.
A female head louse produces about four to six eggs per day. This quickly adds up to 50-150 when they go undetected. This is why it’s important to do weekly checks.
Head lice go on laying eggs when an infestation is left untreated and each head louse can lay up to 150 eggs in their life cycle. Not everyone itches and there is sometimes no visible sign of infestation until the nits (empty egg cases) grow out in the hair, so there can be hundreds of head lice on one person’s head during a prolonged infestation. However, the average number of lice found on an infested person is around 30.
Head lice typically live for about 25 -35 days. They can only survive for around 24 hours once removed from a human head, though.
Sometimes there is no sign of infestation until nits – the hatched empty egg cases – start to become visible as they grow out in the hair, often these little white specks in the hair are the first thing that parents notice. Once the lice have hatched they will start feeding on the scalp, which can cause itching, so if you see a child itching their scalp this is often a telltale sign that they have live lice in their hair. BUT it’s important to know… not everyone itches. So it’s important to carry out weekly visual checks for nits, eggs and head lice. The best time to do this is when you wash and condition the hair because in dry hair live lice will move rapidly away from the area being examined making it much more difficult to spot anything live. Detection will be easiest with conditioner on the hair, as this will immobilise the lice. Section the hair and gently touching the comb to the scalp glide the comb from the scalp down to the tip of the hair. After each stroke check the teeth of the comb for live lice. Fully grown head lice are about the size of a small ant, but newly hatched eggs can be as small as a pinhead. If you are inspecting dry hair make sure you do so in good light – by a window or under a desk lamp is ideal. Also, look for eggs glued to the roots of the hair very close to the scalp.
Other than primary school-aged children you do not need to routinely check all members of the household unless you have reason to suspect they have been in contact with someone with head lice. If you do find any signs of head lice, eggs or nits on your child we always recommend that you check every member of the household, as well as other close family members who are regular visitors, such as grandparents – Remember, not everyone itches when head lice are present.
If you haven’t already been notified by your child’s school about a head lice case in the class then we do recommend that you let them know that you have found and treated head lice on your child and ask them to notify all parents of that class so that they can check and treat their own children.
No, head lice have no preference for clean or dirty hair. They are tough, resourceful little creatures. You can’t wash them out, and there is no scientific evidence to indicate that either washing or not washing the hair will do anything to prevent an infestation.
Head lice have absolutely no preference for boys or girls. But school-age girls do tend to have more hair than boys and more head-to-head contact, which makes it easy for the lice to spread from one head to another, this is why we often find they are most common amongst girls. They then tend to pass them on to their other family members when they have head-to-head contact.
No. They don’t fly, jump, hop or skip. But they do move very swiftly from one human head to another during everyday head-to-head contact.
Technically speaking head lice don’t actually bite. They attach to the scalp and use needle-like feeding tubes to suck blood. This is painless, but their saliva and faeces can sometimes cause an itching allergic reaction.
No. Their presence can aggravate some existing conditions, but they don’t communicate or carry any diseases.
Every civilization in human history has tried to get rid of head lice. But they’re still here. That’s because head lice are very, very good at what they do – and because most treatments prove ineffective at removing an entire infestation (head lice, nits AND ‘live’ eggs). As in the movie ‘Alien’, if you don’t get rid of the eggs, you end up right back where you started. That’s why our Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb has been such a huge breakthrough.
Unlike other head lice treatments our patented micro spiral comb was cleverly designed to remove not only the smallest head lice as well as the nits (the empty egg cases) but also, most importantly, it even removes the unhatched ‘live’ head louse eggs, which is the main cause of repeated infestations. Other combs and treatments simply tackle the live head lice and leave the unhatched eggs behind in the hair. That’s why infestations often seem to go on forever. But unless you get the unhatched live eggs out, you just end up right back where you started a week later when the new generation of head lice hatch out.’
Our award-winning Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb not only removes the live head lice and unhatched eggs but it serves a whole family – and can be used without any need for nasty chemicals. It works brilliantly with any ordinary hair conditioner, and even better when teamed with our Aromatherapy Head Lice Solution and Conditioning Defence Spray.
One Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb really is all you need to finally ‘Beat the bugs’ and it will last you a lifetime!
Check your child weekly for any signs of live head lice or unhatched eggs, it’s far easier if you can catch them early before they have hatched. When doing your weekly check pay particular attention to behind the ears, temples and nape of the neck where lice tend to lay their eggs. If you see your child itching their scalp (especially if they are itching behind their ears or nape of the neck) this is definitely the time to do a quick check, even if you have checked recently.
If you find any sign of live head lice, eggs or nits, you now need to treat the problem by doing a thorough combing. Saturate the hair with a head lice treatment or conditioner (combing dry hair is completely ineffective). Section the hair with hairdressing clips or hairbands and go through each section combing from root to tip removing any lice or eggs from that section before moving onto the next section. Remove any lice or eggs from the comb teeth after each stroke. It is important to treat the whole family if any member has head lice, otherwise, you will just pass them back and forth.
To minimize your child’s chances of catching head lice make sure you tie their hair up every day for school, and for other social activities where you know they will be having close head-to-head contact with other children. If their hair is long we recommend tying the hair into tight plaits or a tight bun.
We also highly recommend using a natural repellent such as our Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray, which you simply spritz onto their hair before school. Head Lice use
their sense of smell to detect the presence of a potential new host, so by disguising the host’s natural smell head lice will look elsewhere. Our defense spray includes ingredients such as Neem oil and Tea Tree oil which are known to be natural insect repellents and which lice just don’t like the smell of.
To find out more about head lice or the Nitty Gritty products visit www.nittygritty.co.uk
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