The head lice problem seems to be persisting in Canada schools as children often play in proximity to each other. Lice moves from one person’s scalp hair to the other when the heads of the children are in proximity. One big reason for that is due to increased resistance of lice to old treatments containing insecticides that have neurotoxic mode of action. Some of these treatments do not kill the nits (eggs) and the lice keep coming back again and again and they also spread from one child to the other.
What is Head Lice?
Head lice are wingless insects measuring 2.0 to 3.5 mm, that live in hair only on the human head. They can especially be found behind the ears and in the nape of the neck.
They can neither jump nor fly but migrate when direct hair to hair contact occurs, using their six very powerful legs with hook-like claws.
Transmission takes place from human to human, objects such as commonly-shared caps, hair brushes and toys which come into contact with scalp hair are rarely the cause for transmitting head lice.
Tips on Removing Head Lice
Step One: First Comb-Out
In this stage, focus on getting the nits out.
Purchase a nit and lice-removal comb, usually metal and with teeth that are very close together. (Kelly likes LiceMeister, available online.)
If your child has thin hair, pour baking soda (an abrasive agent) into one bowl and cheap, thick hair conditioner into another bowl. Dip the comb first into the conditioner and then into the baking soda. (If your child’s hair is coarse, you can skip the baking soda.)
Separate out very small sections of hair, and comb them through. Wipe the comb after every couple of swipes so you see what you’re pulling out. Comb at a 45-degree angle, working each small section up, down, and side-to-side, making sure to run the comb along the scalp.
Step Two: Second Comb-Out
Now, wet your child’s hair. Apply the conditioner directly to the hair this time. Wrap it in a towel to absorb the bulk of the water, leaving the conditioner in.
Comb the hair again with the nit comb, this time working through slightly bigger, inch-thick sections. “This is when you’ll pull the bugs out,” Kelly says. “Do this comb-out fast, and don’t worry about parting it. It’s easier to capture those bugs when you don’t part the hair, because lice are light-sensitive and they’re fast.”
When you’re finished, boil the comb for a few minutes, disinfect it with a 20-minute soak in ammonia, or run it through a cycle in the dishwasher (put it on the top rack). Repeat this step every day for five days. Change your child’s pillowcase and bath towel on each of these days.
Step Three: Delouse the House
On that first day, wash your child’s bedding. Dry the pillow, stuffed animals, and comforter on high for 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re worried you may have missed something, roll a sticky lint brush over the top half of bedding each day for five days. Again, wash all brushes in the top rack of the dishwasher, soak them in ammonia for 20 minutes, or boil them in water for a few minutes.
Now, think about your child’s last 48 hours in the house. Vacuum rugs or furniture they’ve lounged on. “That’s mostly for peace of mind,” says Kelly, since lice and nits can’t survive off the human head. “On the outside chance there’s still something there, that’ll get it.”
In general, focus your efforts on those daily comb-outs. “Get your child’s head — don’t get the car detailed,” says Kelly.
Step Four: The Follow-Up
Two weeks from your first comb-out, do it one more time. “This is the part people don’t do, because they think they’ve taken care of everything after those first few days,” says Kelly. But do not skip this step! “If you left just one nit, the whole process can start over again. And you do not want that.”
For us we used the NYDA Head Lice Treatment Kit.