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School has started, the heat is on, Nits and lice have emerged!

School has started, the heat is on, Nits and lice have emerged!

This is the time of year when your child I sent off to school in their new, clean uniform and come back home with nits and lice. But while head lice infestation is a minor medical concern, it can develop into a full-blown psychological problem. He could be ostracised amongst his friends.

Head lice (Pediculus capitis) are small, wingless, egg laying insects found on the human head. They grow to about 3.5mm (the size of a sesame seed or pin head). Head lice live on the hair and feed by sucking blood from the scalp. They are pale grey in colour before feeding and reddish brown after feeding.

Live eggs (sometimes called nits) are glued to the hair shaft within a distance of 1.5 cm from the scalp. They hatch in 7-10 days as young lice (nymphs). It takes up to ten days for the nymphs to become mature lice and begin laying eggs. Adults are larger than nymphs and a mature female lays up to eight eggs per day.
Eggs need the warmth and moisture of the scalp to hatch.

Treatment options:

Chemical Treatment
There are four groups of treatment agents available in different forms (ie. shampoo, mousse, and lotion) which can be obtained from a pharmacy. No chemical treatment kills all the eggs. A second treatment should be applied 7-10 days after the initial treatment to kill the nymphs that have hatched from the eggs remaining from the first treatment. These chemicals are harsh on the scalp and can lead to further damage to the scalp. The may contain:
  • Pyrethrins, eg. Head Lice Foam, Lyban Foam

  • Synthetic Pyrethroids (bioallethrin, permethrin), eg. Paralice, Quellada Head Lice Treatment

  • Organophosphates, eg.Medicated Foam, Lice Rid


  • Preventative treatment
    Conditioner and combing technique- This is a non-insecticidal treatment. The conditioner blocks the louse's breathing pores and stuns the louse. This, together with the slippery effect of the conditioner, makes it easy to mechanically remove the lice. Repeat the conditioner and combing method every second day to remove the young nymphs as they hatch. Continue until no live lice are found for ten consecutive days.

    Natural insecticides
    A natural Ayurvedic herbalised oil containing neem oil and essential natural plant derivatives is specially compounded at empowered Health for the dreaded Nits and Lice Infection. This alcohol and chemical free oil blend is a powerful and effective treatment with little or no need to reapply as reinfestation rate is minimal if used in accordance with our instructions.

    Neem is a powerful antimicrobial, used extensively to treat skin conditions, insect bites and lice externally. Unlike harsh chemicals, neem is protective and nourishing to the scalp whilst also performing its anti-lice therapy. It contains limonoids which can block the growth of insects and parasites like lice. Among the limonoids that are present in neem oil are salannin, nimbin, melantriol and azadirachtin.

    Head lice can easily reproduce and multiply right on your child’s head. A louse can lay down as many as eight nits per day and the nits become sexually mature within a week. Research shows that the azadirachtin content of neem oil disrupts the growth and development of lice thereby preventing them from multiplying on your child’s head even before you become successful in nit picking all the lice and nits from their human host.
    Laboratory tests have proven that both mellantriol and salannin discourages the lice from feeding. The other ingredients in neem oil also inhibit the swallowing system of lice and other insects, thus discouraging them from feeding. (Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21667206)

    Prevention
    The following actions can be taken to help prevent infestation/re-infestation:
  • Avoid head to head contact with other persons.

  • Keep long hair tied back or in plaits, especially at school.

  • Do not share brushes, combs, or pillows.

  • Wash combs and hair brushes after each use (60oC for 30 seconds).

  • Pillow cases of persons known to be infested should be washed daily on hot cycle or put in the clothes dryer for 15 minutes.

  • Treat all household members whose head lice have been detected.

  • Keep hair short, particularly during an outbreak. It is easier to detect and treat head lice in short hair.

  • Notify your school so that others can be alerted to the problem and can check for head lice and arrange treatment if necessary.


  • Help and Assistance
    Talk to us for the specially compounded head lice Natural Head Lice Treatment

    Andrea Strand is a practicing Naturopath at Empowered Health. Andrea works with a range of health conditions such as adrenal fatigue or hormonal imbalances. To find out how we can help you, call for a free, no obligation 5 minute phone briefing or call to book an appointment on 1300 21 44 25

    Written by Emma Tippett

    Emma Tippett is a practicing Naturopath at Empowered Health in Melbourne. Website: http://www.empoweredhealth.com.au/andre-strand-nee-hepner/

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