Karen van der Berg
You child is scratching and scratching. Her head itches. First you think it might be something else. Then you see them: Head-lice!
Anyone can be a victim of head-lice, and it is particularly at school that children come into contact with these critters. Terrified moms will then get rid of every bug in sight and even feel ashamed that such a “plague” could hit their child.
However, the presence of head-lice is nothing to be ashamed of, and fortunately it can be resolved.
The chemist, Karina du Toit in Klerksdorp, gives some tips.
The first thing you need to know, says Karina, is that head-lice have nothing to do with hygiene. “Head-lice have no connection to bad hygiene. On the contrary, they prefer clean hair. They cannot jump, and are only transferred through physical contact.”
Treat it immediately
Karina says clothes and bedding should be washed in very warm water and then hung out in the sun or put in the tumble-drier. The additional heat helps to kill the lice. “Everyone and everything in the home must be treated. The mattresses and the carpets can also be sprayed with a registered toxin.”
Various products are available that can help with lice.
Nowadays there is an increasing movement away from toxic substances, and reliance is placed on natural products such as coconut oil and tea tree oil, as they are harmless when absorbed by the skin.
“Permethrin is very popular as its toxicity is very low; absorption by the skin is also very low. The 1 percent solution can be used for children older than six months,” she says. “Products that contain tea tree oil are also effective. For prevention it can be added to shampoo – the lice do not like the scent. You can also use natural products that contain coconut, aniseed or ylang-ylang oils for prevention and treatment. Make sure you wash brushes and combs with very warm water after use, otherwise contamination can reoccur.”
Pay attention to the following:
Follow these measures when treating your own or your children’s hair against head-lice, says Karina.
Any aerosols must always be used in a well-ventilated area.
Sufferers from asthma should avoid inhaling aerosols.
Aerosols are extremely flammable, therefore do not smoke while using it and stay away from heat sources, such as a campfire.
Keep the lice shampoo away from your eyes, broken skin and your mouth.
Follow the directions of any product meticulously, even it is a natural product.
Make sure the product you are using is safe for your child’s age. Young children for example are more sensitive to some toxic substances.
Is you use a toxic substance, do not wash your child’s hair while he/she is sitting in the bath, as the poison can also be absorbed by the skin. Keep their heads over the washbasin or bath and rinse with a pitcher.
Karina says you can follow the measures below to prevent you or your children from getting lice.
Don’t allow your children to share hats, scarves, brushes, pillows and soft toys with friends at school if you think there might be lice in the vicinity.
Inform the school or day care centre immediately when you find lice on your child’s head. If you have more than one child and they are in different schools, let both schools know.