Why is head lice infestation so common? About 1 in 5 primary school-aged children will contract head lice this year – only colds are more prevalent in children1. And like colds and flu, kids usually pick lice up at school. Lice don't fly through the air like a sneeze, but they move fast when children have close physical contact. It's easy to pick up head lice from close contact in the confines of school or day-care and bring them home to spread. All it takes is sharing a hat, a brush or a cuddle.
Break the cycle.
Head lice hang on to the hair shaft and they can be really hard to get rid of. As soon as head lice are detected, effective treatment is needed. The head lice cycle must be broken, otherwise head lice can continue to re-infest.
1. Stephen Barker. (2011). Avoid a lousy start to the year - observe National Head Lice Awareness Day. Available: http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=22572. Last accessed 11th October 2011.
Getting a head lice infestation is not about having clean or dirty hair. Head lice don’t discriminate. They make themselves at home whenever the opportunity presents itself.
And home to head lice is a nice warm scalp. They won’t survive more than 24 hours anywhere else in the home. So there’s no point in doing loads of laundry, having the carpets steam cleaned or exiling the family pet to the dog house.
Stop head lice dead.
Because they don’t swim or fly, head lice like it best when head-to-head contact occurs between children in school or day-care. Then they come home to spread. All it takes is sharing a cap, a brush or a cuddle. Head lice can be so hard to treat properly because their eggs are secured to the hair with a glue-like substance. Simple shampooing can’t dislodge them. It takes a proven effective treatment and plenty of fine tooth combing.
Head lice are tiny. Most are about the size of the tip of a sharp pencil. While they are almost impossible to see, they can be equally hard to feel. The reason is that head lice don't always cause an itchy scalp. An everyday heat rash can be much more itchy. More often, children will itch behind the ears or on the back of the neck. These are the dark, warm places where head lice prefer to lay their eggs.
Sharing – not always a good idea.
Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact or through shared objects – a hairbrush, a cuddle or a hat can be all it takes. It's not about having dirty hair either. Head lice also like clean hair. And because they grip onto the shaft of the hair, washing won't dislodge them. An effective solution is needed to treat both the head lice and their eggs.
Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact. The kind that happens every day in the school playground or having a nap at kindy. Sharing a hairbrush, a pillow or a cap can be all it takes. Then head lice settle in by hiding on one of 100,000 strands of a child’s hair. These tiny creatures can even blend in with the hair colour, and are usually about the size of a sharp pencil tip, so they can be difficult to find.
Like tiny crabs with sticky eggs.
Head lice grip onto the shaft of the hair with tiny crab-like claws. During their adult lifetime they can lay as many as 100 eggs, attaching them to the hair with a glue-like substance. Head lice eggs are tiny dots, coloured grey to caramel. They can clump together, or scatter through the hair and look like dandruff. If the eggs are more than 1cm from the scalp, it is likely that they have hatched, so it is important to remove the eggs while they are close to the scalp. For this, you need a fine tooth comb and a proven treatment.