Parents warned kids at risk of ‘super head lice’ as they go back to school – The Sun
PARENTS are being warned their kids could bring home more than just homework when the start of the new school year begins next week.
Experts say youngsters are at risk of "super head lice" which have evolved to become resistant to popular over-the-counter treatments.
The pesky bugs are a common problem, particularly preying on the scalps of primary school kids aged between six and nine.
Head lice expert Ian Burgess, of Insect Research & Development Limited, said when Lyclear Creme Rinse hit the market it "swept the board".
But, he warned, it leaves insecticide in a sufferer's hair.
While that may sound an appealing prevention measure, he said the bugs have slowly learned biologically to cope with it.
Research by Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) revealed that 98 per cent of head lice are now resistant to common treatments.
The 2016 study of 48 US states found that head lice were able to grow gene mutations, which helped them resist insecticides, also known as pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and permathrins.
Professor Craig Williams, of the University of South Australia, has been researching ways to outwit nuts.
Speaking to 7NEWS, he said: "Super lice would be the name we would give to lice that have become resistant to some of the treatments to kill them."
He likened the spread of the super-strength lice to antibiotic resistance – the more we use insecticides, the bigger the problem becomes.
But dermatologists say that being better prepared for head lice season can help stop the critters in their tracks – and reduce the risk of them spreading to other family members.
The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has come up with some simple steps to prevent an outbreak:
1. Make sure that you have the essentials at home already, include a large bottle of conditioner and a nit comb
2. Check for nits pre-emptively at home using a nit comb to identify infestation early, prompt treatment helps prevent further spread
3. If you do find evidence of nits, get to work with the nit comb.
Lubricating the hair with a generous amount of conditioner to wet hair will make the procedure easier, particularly for curly hair.
You should then comb through all the hair from the roots to the ends.
Depending on the hair type and length, the wet combing process can take up to 45 minutes
4. The comb must be immediately cleaned after each pass to remove lice and eggs.
This is best done by wiping on clean white paper or cloth
5. Check family members for head lice – they may have spread
6. To ensure all head lice are removed, you should repeat this wet combing process two or three times within the first two weeks following infestation
7. Continue to check for head lice every week for a month to ensure that they have not returned.
Chemical treatments shouldn’t be used as a preventative measure
Holly Barber of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “Although it’s important for parents to be prepared for the increased risk of head lice infestation in their children ahead of the new school year, chemical treatments shouldn’t be used as a preventative measure.
"This can encourage the resistant head lice to develop, making them even harder to get rid of.
“Instead, the British Association of Dermatologists recommends regular examinations with a nit comb in order to detect an infestation early, as starting treatment sooner rather than later will help prevent further spread.
HEAD LICE FACTS
Head lice are tiny insects that live in hair.
Typically, they grow up to 3mm long, making them are difficult to spot.
They can cause an itchy scalp and general discomfort as the parasites live by feeding on human blood.
Nits are particularly common in school children aged between 4-11.
But here's some facts you might not have heard about nits…
- They can’t fly, jump or swim
- They are very unlikely to be spread by items such as combs, hats or pillows
- They don’t have a preference for dirty or clean hair – nor short or long
- They are specific to people – you can’t catch them from animals
- Once they have been removed from hair, head lice will usually die within 12-24 hours
“Parents should also keep in mind that head lice can spread to anybody, no matter how clean their hair or home is.
"It is unnecessary to keep children home from school if they have head lice, however, treatment should be started immediately.”
While there are also some over-the-counter treatments that don't contain pesticides, so lice can't build up a resistance to the product.
One of them is Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo, which is allergy certified, skin friendly, easy to use and does not have a nasty odour.
Dr Burgess said: “It is important to deal with head lice promptly to prevent the infestation from spreading further.
"By eradicating lice in just five minutes, Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo makes treating head lice simpler and easier for parents.
"What’s more, hair will be left fresh and clean, which is an added bonus."
After using Hedrin All-In-One Shampoo, a further check should be carried out one week after application to make sure that no lice or eggs have managed to escape treatment.
If any live lice are discovered then the shampoo should be re-applied.
- Hedrin All-in-One Shampoo is available to buy from Boots, from £7.99 – buy now
Save Money: Good Health investigates what works effectively to kill nits
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