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like a fine, black powder that may be evident
on pillows or sheets.
Head lice are hard to spot on the hair but can
be removed, and then identified, by combing
them out. The hair should be combed in
sections using either a very fine-toothed
comb or a special ‘nit comb’ - available
from pharmacists. The hair may be easier
to comb if it is wet, or if a few teaspoons of
olive oil or hair conditioner are applied to
the hair. It is important to comb the entire
length of the hair from root to tip. After each
stroke, the comb should be checked for lice.
Treatment for lice can be completed at home
by applying pediculicidal agents and cleaning
the environment, says Dr. Al Sadoon. “Nits
removal by fine tooth comb is necessary and
always follows the direction of application
strictly, repeat the application in 7 to 10 days, if
live lice are present,” he says.
To prevent lice infestation at day-care centres
and school settings, Dr. Al Sadoon encourages
teachers, parents, and care providers to have
carpeted areas frequently vacuumed as well
as discourage body contact and sharing items
between children such as hats, coats and
combs. “Also knowing how to examine for lice
is paramount,” he says and students especially
have lockers available to store their clothing
separately. ”And parents should aim to comb
their child’s hair each day to have opportunity
to discover the nits,” he says.
Once head lice infection is confirmed, there
are a number of treatments available including
insecticides and bug busting. Some types of
insecticides include Malathion, Phenothrin,
and Permethrin. This will kill the living lice,
but may not kill the eggs. Louse eggs are
more difficult to kill than live lice because
the insecticide lotions do not penetrate the
eggshell to get in to the developing louse.
It may therefore be necessary to repeat
the treatment after seven days to kill lice
emerging from any eggs that survived the first
The treatment needs to be repeated a week
later to destroy any lice that have hatched since
the first treatment.
Whichever treatment is used, a follow-up
check using a nit comb should be carried
out a few days after the course of treatment.
Clothes, bedding, and other items contacted
by the infested person within 48 hours should
be washed in hot water with a detergent and
dried in clothes dryer. Alternate means of
disinfecting articles include dry cleaning,
isolation in a plastic bag for 10 days, or placing
items in a freezer. Freezing is lethal to eggs,
nymphs, and adults, as is a temperature of 125
degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or more. To
help prevent reinfestation, it is suggested that
all family members be treated on the same day.
Lice can especially be problematic in families
where one person will have the infection,
spreads it to others and then has treatment for
it. This cycle seems never-ending. To prevent
it spreading in the family, avoid sharing combs
if one child has the problem. Shorter hair, she
adds, may be washed more frequently and
brushed easily - this is a deterrent for any nits
or lice.
Oct/Nov 2013