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Back to school? Here's how to keep kids without lice



The new school year, and another battle between the parasites of bloodshed and the children they want to live, writes Cameron Webb of the University of Sydney

New school year, and another battle between blood-storm parasites and children they want to live.

But the real victims are stressed parents and carers who are trying to keep their children free of lice.

Here are some tips to delay the inevitable tricky task of treating your lice as long as possible.

Remind me, what are lice?

Head lice (Pediculus capitis) are insects found almost exclusively in the hair of human heads. These parasites are not found anywhere else on the planet.

They are perfectly designed to soften up and down hair pipes, feeding on scalp blood to those who are infected. They usually feed about three times a day, spending up to 15 minutes on each occasion.

While their bites may cause some immaturity, the lice does not spread the bugs that torture us.

The lice does not live long – not much more than a month. Adults lay eggs (commonly rotten), which are usually performed for about a week or so. This life cycle is simple, but it is crucial to identify and eradicate infestations.

You want to remove the lice of the adults, and then re-treat two weeks later to get rid of the newly opened lice before you have the opportunity to put more eggs. From Blamb / Shutterstock
It is worth investing in the lice comb. From Jiri Hera

The eggs are fixedly cemented on the shafts of the hair. These eggs, even when the lice are hatched, will stay and grow up with the hair of the hair.

This means that the detection of rotting more than one centimeter or so from the scalp may not require treatment for all.

Instead, look for live lice to move. This is the safest way to confirm the infection. Use a special comb from the local pharmacy to facilitate your search.

How do children become infected?

The lice does not jump, do not fly or swim. They move from head to toe through direct contact as directions of two-person hair to get in touch, creating a bridge for adventurous lice into a new world.

But the lice can be fussy, with a study showing that the hairs should be specifically aligned to allow parasites to jump from one wire to another.

This is why the transmission of lice from one person to another does not happen as easily as urban myths think.

Sharing caps, towels, or pillows will not dramatically increase the chance of raising lice. They will not crawl through the floor in the classroom.

Direct head-to-head contact is the best way to share infections, so beware of children who are full of smartphones and tablets!

Head lice can be small, but they can cause great concern for parents and carers of school children! Eran Finkle / Flickr

The lice does not have to have a certain predilection for clean or dirty hair. Short hair is not immune to infection, but long hair means that the chances of raising the lice are higher.

Providing hair is neatly pulled back dramatically reduces the risk of raising lice.

Are head lice really a problem in Australia?

Head lice is a problem around the world. But they are more of an embarrassment than a health risk in most cases.

Studies show that about one third of Australian children at the age of primary education can currently have lice. With more than 2.1 million primary school students in Australia, it is about 700,000 potentially infected children.

The thought of lice can be actually worse than the itching that comes out of a real infection. The Australian Academy of Science gives a funky breakdown as to why these malignant parasites cause so much stress.

It's hard to control lice from the usual. International studies show that the lice becomes resistant to the most commonly used insecticidal treatments. This, too, is likely to be a problem in Australia, but more research is needed to better understand the situation here.

Alternatives to traditional insecticides, such as botanical extracts, can be more useful in the future.


Read more: Here's how you beat the "indestructible" lice


Most health authorities in Australia recommend avoiding insecticides and instead suggests moistening the hair (or using a conditioner) and then combing the lice.

Essential for eradicating the head lice invasion is the two treatments, each separately for about a week. This ensures that the adult lice is killed, and then all the eggs left are allowed to heal, but these newly created lice are killed by the second treatment before they have the opportunity to lay more eggs.

I'm already a slush!

Perhaps the biggest health issue associated with lice is stress and anxiety for parents and carers of infected children.

Even before one ear is noticed, finding a note from the school's "lice" warning could be enough to cause scratching! There is even a term for this: psychosomatic itching.

Do not worry – lice is boring, but not harmful. With DGL images

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for lice release. And no matter what social media claim, using mayonnaise, hair straightening or household cleaning products) is a bad idea.

The most important thing is to remember the lice will not cause health problems, nor are indicators of poor hygiene of households or the quality of care.


Read more: How to keep school lunches safe on the heat The conversation


Cameron Webb, a clinical lecturer and chief hospital scientist, University of Sydney

This article has been published by Talk under Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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