With the return to classes and the school year, lice are once again becoming a very common problem. So much so that, according to the IX CinfaSalud Study “Perception and habits of Spanish fathers and mothers regarding head lice”, carried out in 2019 and endorsed by the Spanish Society of Clinical, Family and Community Pharmacy (Sefac), half of Spanish boys and girls between three and 12 years old (50.7%) suffered from these parasites at some time in the previous three years.
Predictably, this dynamic could be repeated this year. Although, as Dr. Julio Maset, Cinfa’s medical expert, points out, “we don’t have to resign ourselves to these parasites invading our children’s hair every time they return to the classrooms. “If we take some preventative measures, it is possible to keep them at bay.” The problem, he continues, is that “there are still many false beliefs about head lice that prevent these precautions from being carried out properly.”
For example, according to the aforementioned study, one in four parents with school-age children still believes that lice are related to poor hygiene, leading some to fear that their children will be treated differently for having them. «This fear of stigma and shame is one of the main reasons that leads parents not to notify the school that their children have lice, which greatly increases the risk of children in their class becoming infected. However, you have to know that these parasites go to clean hair just as much or more than dirty hair,” emphasizes the Cinfa expert.
Better with wet hair
Another important prevention measure is Insist that minors not exchange items such as towels, hats, combs, hairpins or hair ties., since it is one of the main routes of contagion. Furthermore, to avoid these parasites it is necessary to resort to lice repellents, always keeping in mind that they are different products from pediculicides and that they should be used only to prevent their appearance, just as pediculicide is only for when there is already an infestation and never as a prevention. .
If the child begins to feel itchy scalp – or if they have been notified that there have already been cases in their environment – a exhaustive examination of the hair by combing each strand with a comb –a comb with closely spaced metal teeth that can be purchased at a pharmacy–, which allows you to remove nits and/or lice. As Maset explains, “it is best to do it with damp hair, since the lice move more slowly through it and it makes it easier to use, handling the comb with the tips facing up. “It is also advisable to place a white cloth or towel on the child’s shoulders so that the parasites can be seen when they fall.” And if it is confirmed that there is an infestation, the pediculicide must be applied with a light massage. Afterwards, hair should be washed, rinsed and allowed to air dry.never with a dryer, since heat can inactivate the insecticidal effect of the product.
Decalogue to win the battle
►Know the enemy. To eliminate lice effectively, you must dispel false myths.
►First of all, caution. If cases are reported in your environment, take necessary preventive measures.
►Learn to pass the litter correctly. It is a very effective tool, but its use requires patience and being systematic, since it has to be passed strand by strand and from bottom to top.
►If you confirm that there are lice, notify the school. A timely warning can prevent other schoolchildren from becoming infested and the cycle starting again.
►Choose the right treatment. If you are not sure which is the most suitable, consult your pharmacist.
►Don’t trust home remedies. The effectiveness of substances such as mayonnaise, olive oil, butter or Vaseline is zero.
►Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using pediculicide. Once applied to dry hair, brush to remove dead lice and nits and then wash your head with your usual shampoo.
►Do not use dryers. After rinsing, let your hair air dry.
►Extreme hygiene at home. Combs or brushes should be washed with pediculicides or boiled in water. Clothing, including bedding and towels used by the person with lice, must be washed with water at 60ºC.
►Don’t let your guard down. Two weeks after the treatment, check again with the professional.