How to identify, treat and avoid head lice

How to identify, treat and avoid head lice

A lot of panic stories about super lice have surfaced in the media at the beginning of this school term.

Eileen Hutchinson of NitNOT clinic and founder of NitNOT anti-lice serum has concerns this news may be causing undue distress and encouraging the spread of misinformation. Primary school children are indeed the main spreaders of head lice, as they spend lots of time in close contact with one another. Knowing the facts about lice, and how to check, can help you treat or even avoid an infestation altogether.

How Lice Move From Head to Head

Lice have claws at the end of their legs designed for walking through hair; they cannot fly or jump. The male lice happily stay on the scalp. After mating just once, the female louse lays up to 10 eggs daily for the rest of her 30-day life. She travels down the hair and waits with her front claws stretched out to grab any passing new hair. When a new hair passes by she will cling on, scurry up the follicle to the scalp, and start laying eggs. Transportation is as simple as that!

The female louse doesn’t care if your hair is curly or straight, clean or dirty. Essential oils as a repellent is another fallacy; there’s no medical evidence they will prevent head lice. A female louse’s genetic profile to colonise is far stronger than their dislike for any repellent. It is important to note that essential oils if not diluted adequately, can cause nasty skin reactions and potentially be harmful.

Simple Preventative and Checking Measures

Keep long hair tied up in a bun, plait or a ponytail at the nape of the neck for school and playdates.

Use a separate brush for each member of the family, and advise children not to share brushes with friends.

To check for lice, use a nit comb on wet hair coated with a small amount of clear conditioner. Separate the hair into straight line sections, using clips to keep hair secure in each section.

When checking, let down one section at a time, positioning the teeth of the lice comb at an angle at the top of the hair shaft.

Gently pull the comb down the length of the hair from root to tip. Wipe the nit comb on a tissue or white cloth and look for lice, baby lice and eggs.

It sounds like a lot of faff, but if you include this as part of your hair washing routine, you will soon find you’re whizzing through the checks in minutes.

How to Recognise Lice, Baby Lice and Eggs

Eggs – the brown and tan flecks, measuring around 2mm in length, are similar to the shape of a sesame seed. They are glued to the hair shaft by the female louse with a liquid she produces which mimics the make-up of keratin. As such, it creates an incredibly powerful bond and makes them very difficult to remove.

Lice are up to 4mm long and light tan or brown.

Baby lice can be tiny and may be identified on the tissue as darker specks alongside the eggs.

Wet dandruff can be mistaken for eggs. The key is, if it can be rubbed off, it’s not an egg or nit (the name given to the empty shells). An egg can only be removed by sliding it down and off the hair shaft.

What to Do if you Find Lice

If you find evidence of a louse, you can keep on repeating this combing down in sections until the tissue is clear of specks or lice. Keep the cleared parts away from hair that has not been treated. After each section is combed, check for eggs, and use a tweezer to slide eggs down the hair shaft and off the hair.

Sterilise combs and put clips and bands in a sealed plastic bag after washing. Do not use for at least three days.

If using the combing method, you must comb every 3 to 4 days until the entire infestation has been removed. This can take up to a month, depending on the severity of the outbreak.

The primary issue with the combing method is that it takes such a long time to clear the infestation; on average a month. As you can imagine, this gives lice plenty of time to move on and spread to new hosts. It makes it a lot harder for schools to clear the lice issue, and much more likely that re-infestations will occur.

There are treatments on the market that contain no toxic chemicals and work instead by the process of anoxia, killing lice and eggs efficiently and quickly. Anoxia works by cutting off the lice and eggs’ oxygen supply and stopping them from expelling the gases they need to release as waste to survive. Super lice cannot mutate to overcome anoxia. Dimethicone results in penetration through the spiracles and spreading to the entire respiratory system within 30 minutes, leading to death in 100% of the lice, including the dreaded Super Lice nemesis and eggs.

NitNOT anti-lice serum is a 100% dimethicone anti head lice treatment serum. It also has the added bonus of proving to be hypoallergenic and not absorbed by the skin, meaning it is safe enough to use even on a baby’s scalp.

Supporting studies published by the NCBI showed anoxia as a safer and more effective method than insecticide for killing lice and eggs. There are also studies on the safety of dimethicone published by BMC pediatric.

NitNOT anti head lice serum was borne out of Eileen Hutchinson’s frustration with the range of chemical-based and potentially harmful head louse treatments available.

NitNOT can be purchased for £15.99 to use at home from Amazon or the NitNOT website, free delivery included. One bottle has enough solution to treat a family of four and can be applied with ease to even curly or afro hair. Any leftover serum can be put back in the medicine cabinet for future use.