Lice. Just thinking about it makes your head itch. It’s even worse to receive a letter from school notifying parents that there is a suspected outbreak and that we should check for nits. We can do our best to prevent it, but it’s just one of those things we all have to face at one time or another. It’s also no-one’s fault and has nothing to do with cleanliness. It’s just unpleasant. I thought you only need to worry about lice when your kids are young because of the frequent head-to-head contact, but I presume that the trending head-to-head selfies are no help to the spread in older children either.
Some more good news is that you can get rid of lice and even protect your child against them using Controlice® products.* Since we are back to school, I thought it would be fun to do an ABC of lice so we can all be educated about what to do when your child starts to itch and scratch their head.
Aniseed: Controlice® Oil Spray is a non-chemical pesticide that consists of plant oils including aniseed. When head lice are already in the hair, the clinically proven Controlice® Oil Spray is one quick way to eliminate the little monsters.*
Bath: Bathing or using a regular shampoo will not prevent or eliminate head lice. In fact head lice are not an indicator of poor hygiene at all.
Comb: Combing is an essential part of detecting and treating a lice infestation. Combing during a treatment assists to remove the nits (eggs) and dead lice from the hair. You can check for lice using one of the Controlice® combs. The Controlice® Lice Buster Comb is designed for long, curly or thick hair. The Controlice® Triple Comb is ideal for short hair.
Dog: The dog and cat (or any other pets) are not to blame for lice. Head lice cannot survive on pet animals, they are only spread by close contact with another person and you cannot get them from the family pets.
Ear: Lice favour the area behind the ears where they usually lay their eggs, so remember to also check behind the ear when finding signs of an infestation.
Frequently asked questions: For answers to some of the frequently asked questions about head lice, click here.
Girls and boys get lice: Lice don’t discriminate on gender, age or even hair length. Girls who keep their long hair are not any more vulnerable to lice than boys with short hair. Cutting your children’s hair to get rid of lice is not necessary.
Hat: Head-to-head contact is a common way for lice to be passed on. This is why they spread easily among younger children whose play typically encourages transfer. This can be difficult to manage. Infestation can also occur through sharing hats, combs, clothing and towels, so we can at least teach youngsters not to share their personal belongings to curb the spread of head lice.
Infestation: A nasty word meaning that lice have set up home in your hair. After being hatched the female louse is ready to mate in 7 to 10 days and will start laying her nits in another 7 to 10 days. Therefore treatment should be repeated within seven days to prevent re-infestation by breaking the lice life cycle.
Lice: An adult louse (plural: lice) is a crawling insect about the size of a sesame seed. It has six legs and grasps the hair with claws. Lice are clear in colour when they hatch but turn reddish-brown once they start feeding on the blood of their hosts. Female lice lay small yellowish-white oval-shaped eggs called nits which are attached at angles to the sides of the hair shafts. They crawl quickly but do not hop, jump or fly. They normally don’t separate from their human hosts because if they do they die from starvation in approximately 24-48 hours. They spend their entire lives in human hair, dropping down to feed on blood from the scalp four or five times a day.
Mom: The person children go to when they need to fix anything, when lice become a problem or when they don’t feel well. Moms know how to make it all better, and aren’t grossed out by things as they are well prepared after years of nappy changes. Also known as Controlice® Supermoms.
Neck: Check the back of the neck as well as behind the ears for lice and nits. Often lice prefer to lay their eggs in these areas hence could be the first sign of an infestation.
Outbreak: If your child hasn’t already shown symptoms of having lice, you may receive a letter from school informing you of an outbreak. Lice outbreaks often occur during warmer seasons, especially when the children are at school. Since lice spread by head-to-head contact, outbreaks can happen quickly between classmates during play, sport or sharing clothing. The Controlice® Defence products can assist to repel head lice and avoid a new or re-infestation during a lice outbreak.
Pharmacy: Controlice® is available at most pharmacies and leading retail stores nationwide.
Rinse: Controlice® Head Rinse is a non-chemical pesticide lice treatment. The active ingredient in the Controlice® Head Rinse is Dimethicone. Dimethicone forms a wax-like layer around lice that blocks the part of the respiratory system of lice causing them to die(1,2) . Work the solution through dry hair using your fingers. Head rinse is colourless and odourless and requires an 8 hour application time.
Shampoo: If you hear that there is a head lice outbreak at your child’s school, or if you have managed to get rid of the little crawlers and don’t want them coming back, you can use the Controlice® Defence range daily. Controlice® Defence Shampoo and Controlice® Defence Spray can assist to put up a line of defence to stop head lice from moving in.*
Towels: To avoid the spread of lice, teach your child not to share their towels. When you suspect a lice infestation, wash and dry all bed linen and towels on high heat.
Video: Checking and removing head lice can be quite a long process, so try to turn it into a happy mom and child experience. Using tactics such as videos and games like “I-Spy” can assist to distract your child and keep them still while you check or remove head lice.
Wash: When an outbreak has been identified, treat all the affected family members, wash bed linens and towels. Also check coat collars, hoods, hats and scarves for lice and nits and wash them as well.
Ylang-ylang is one of the active ingredients found in the Controlice Oil Spray.
Did you learn anything new about lice? There will be a test you know! Only kidding, but it’s best to be prepared as our patience and family will be tested if we do have an infestation. Reassure your children that it’s not their (or their friend’s) fault that they have an itchy head. With a few treatments, it will be gone and they can go back to school and play with their friends again.
*For a diagnosis or if symptoms persist, consult a medical practitioner. Efficacy of support may vary between users. This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- Heukelbach, J., Oliveira, F.A., Richter, J. and Häussinger, D., 2010. Dimeticone-based pediculicides: a physical approach to eradicate head lice.Open Dermatol J, 4, pp.77-81.
- Burgess, I.F., 2009. The mode of action of dimeticone 4% lotion against head lice, Pediculus capitis. BMC pharmacology, 9(1), p.3.