I can barely hear the word lice – let alone write about it – without scratching my arms and head. But it’s worth the imagined itch to write about some tips I learnt about, and a product I was recently introduced to.
I’ve never experienced (yet) these critters on my son’s hair, but when I blurted out to the brand manager of Paranix, a lice treatment, that I doubted my son would ever get lice because his hair is not always clean, I was told that lice are attracted to any hair – clean or dirty.
So that’s when I thought I *needed* to write a post – not only to educate myself, but to share some useful tips with you too.
5 facts/myths about lice
“Lice jump from hair to hair”. Lice are incapable of “flying” or “jumping”. They crawl from one hair follicle to another using this singular claw1. They are transferred through head to head contact or through contact with personal items such as hair brushes or hats. Lice reproduce rapidly, and it is this quality that adds to the belief that they “jump” from person to person.
“Lice infestations are only found on dirty hair”. Having lice is not an indication that you have dirty hair 2. Lice infestations are found equally on clean or dirty hair 3. They are extremely difficult to remove and specific treatments are required. Lice have three pairs of legs with a single claw terminating from each limb. This claw attaches to an individual’s clothing or hair and ensures that it is not washed away during routine hair cleaning. Lice need to be killed and the claw dislodged in order to remove a lice infestation, therefore it is imperative to comb thoroughly
“Lice can be washed away during regular washing of hair or swimming”. There is evidence to show that head lice can survive under water but it is highly unlikely that lice are transferred this way 4. If a child has an existing lice infestation, the lice are likely to survive a swim or shower. They hold tightly onto the hair and do not let go when submerged under water. In addition to this, the chlorine used in swimming pools does not kill the head lice.
“You must extensively wash bedding or clothing after a lice infestation”. Lice can only survive for 2 days out of human hair. The nits are unlikely to hatch at room temperature and the lice require the sustenance and warm habitat of the scalp 5. Therefore to minimise the risk of transmission it is recommended to wash the items that have intimate contact with the hair (hats, brushes or combs).
“Head lice spread disease”. Head lice are not known to carry pathogens and spread disease. They may cause pruritus (itching), irritation and mild inflammation but they are not known to cause long term physical harm.
Paranix offers head lice treatment solutions, and have no harsh chemicals or pesticides. Rather, it works with natural ingredients to combat and kill head lice, preventing any resistance to the product.
The products contain mineral oils that dehydrate head lice and eggs via solubilisation of the natural waxes of the epicuticle.
The range comes in a spray, shampoo and a repellent spray (to protect against lice).
Products range from R118 to R170, and are available from Clicks and leading chemists.
More about lice (via Paranix)
Head lice are about the size of a sesame seed, and can easily be seen, but quickly hide when they are exposed to light. Those most susceptible to head lice are children (between 4-12 years of age) and moms (between the ages of 25-44 years).
Lice eggs, commonly known as nits, are barely visible whitish ovals that are firmly glued to the base of hairs of the head, especially on the back of the head and behind the ears.
Head lice are spread through personal contact with others who are already infected with lice, especially by sharing brushes, pillows, combs, hats and other personal items.
There are often a number of tell-tale signs that you or your children may have lice. If your child’s head itches really bad, or has tiny red bite marks or a scaly rash on the neck and scalp area there is a good chance that they may have lice. In addition, toxic reactions to the saliva injected into the skin by the lice may lead to weariness and a general feeling of illness.
So what can you do to reduce the risks of your family getting head lice?
- Check your child’s hair and scalp regularly for signs of lice and their eggs.
- Don’t let your child use other children’s combs or brushes, or wear their hats or jackets.
- If your child has lice, make sure every other person in your household is treated as well.
- Don’t have physical contact with a person who has lice.