Head lice: treatment


Head lice: treatment

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They infest the heads of children and seem resistant to any attempt to prevent their unwelcome arrival: they are head lice, now ubiquitous in schools and communities as kindergartens ...

All children with head lice should be treated, as well as all cohabitants and peers they have had close contact with. According to the guidelines of the British National Health Service, it is also useful to give prophylactic treatment to anyone who shares a bed with a person infested with lice, even if no parasites or nits are seen.

The treatment must be carried out simultaneously: if the child is treated immediately and the rest of the family 24 hours later, the whole process can be ineffective.

In general, a second treatment after a week is always recommended because no product is 100% oocidal, that is, it is possible that some eggs survive and generate viable lice. Furthermore, it is absolutely necessary to eliminate the eggs with the special comb (available in pharmacies), whose teeth must be positioned at a distance of less than 0,3 mm. Only mechanical removal of the eggs guarantees complete eradication.

The experts of the ASL of our city also affirm that if the eggs on the head are few and a lot of patience, it is possible to avoid the insecticide treatment and remove it mechanically, cutting them at the base with a scissors, the individual hairs on which there is the presence of an egg. Live and adult lice are in fact eliminated even with simple washing and normal shampoo.

The cut hair must be carefully collected in a bag which is then closed and eliminated.

To facilitate the elimination of eggs after treatment with insecticide, it is useful to rinse with water and vinegar: the latter dissolves the sticky substances that the louse produces to anchor the nit to the hair.

The environment and the house

It is not enough to treat the person: it is necessary to remove any eggs from clothing and furnishings that came into contact with the head in the 48 hours preceding the discovery of the lice. It is therefore good to collect hats, scarves, sweaters, pillow cases, sheets, blankets, sofa covers and towels and wash them in the washing machine at 60 ° C. Louse eggs are in fact killed by exposure to temperatures above 55 ° C for five minutes.

Dry cleaning is also a good alternative and can be performed on garments that are not washable with water. Brushes and combs should be washed in very hot water.

Alternatively, if it is absolutely impossible to wash the items, they can be closed in a plastic bag and left like that for two weeks, in order to exclude the presence of viable lice.

Finally, it is recommended to vacuum carpets and sofas to suck up any hair, even if the chances of re-infesting in this way are almost nil.

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General indications

The following are valid advice regardless of the type of product you choose to use.

  • Before applying the treatments, it is good to remove clothes that could get stained. Many of the substances used are in fact difficult to eliminate from clothing.

  • Apply the product strictly following the instructions written on the package. If the person has very long hair, one pack may not be enough. Pay particular attention to the shutter speed and rinsing methods.

  • After the treatment it is advisable to wear clean clothes.

  • If you see lice still alive but moving with difficulty 8-12 hours after treatment, a second treatment is not necessary: ​​some insecticides kill the parasite rather slowly.

  • If after 8-12 hours the lice move at the same speed as before, it means that the product has not worked. It is necessary to repeat the treatment with a different substance.

  • After the treatment, it is essential to mechanically eliminate the eggs with the special fine-toothed comb contained in the product packs or sold separately. A normal comb is not enough, as the teeth are too far apart to tear the nit from the hair.

  • Every day for about a week after the treatment it is necessary to check all the hair and remove any residual eggs with the comb. The eggs left on the comb should be collected with a paper handkerchief to be carefully thrown into the dustbin. The same procedure must also be carried out after the second treatment, to be carried out about a week after the first.

  • It is absolutely contraindicated to mix different products in the same treatment.

  • The rather high cost of lice products is a strong deterrent to their correct use. Each pack of gel or mousse, usually sufficient for one / two treatments, costs between 10 and 18 euros. Treating the whole family can cost up to 100 euros if you also buy the post-treatment shampoo suitable for the chosen product (and up to 200 if you consider that you need to repeat the treatment a second time). The high costs often direct the consumer towards shampoos, which allow more people to be treated with a single package but which are less effective than other formulations. Unfortunately, anti-lice products are not considered drugs but medical-surgical aids and therefore are not reimbursable by the National Health System.

Author: Daniela Ovadia

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