It can be an unsettling experience for a parent to find out that their child has head lice. Even the mere mention of head lice will have people scratching their heads. So, what steps should you take if you’ve found a live louse (or full infestation) on your child’s head?
The experts here at Lyclear have come up with a 7 step plan to get the situation under control and deal with the issue swiftly.
Although creepy crawlies can send many clawing at their hair and skin, it’s important to keep calm for the sake of your child. Let your little one know that it’s very common for children to catch head lice.
In fact, one study found that 45% of school-aged children have been infected with head lice in the last 5 years1. That’s almost 1 in 2 children!
Some people believe that having head lice is a sign of dirty hair. This is a fallacy though. Head lice are happy living on both clean and dirty hair.
Check the rest of your family
If you’ve found a living louse on your child, there’s an increased risk of others in the family being infected too. One-by-one, go through each member of the household and check for any signs of infestation.
Head lice are transmitted by close contact, most commonly head-to-head contact. This is why occurrences of head lice infestations are higher in households with children2.
Treat all affected members of the household together
It’s important to treat everyone in the household who has head lice on the same day3. This is to help reduce the risk of re-infestation.
There are a number of different treatments available, ranging from wet combing to medicated shampoos, lotions and spray (such as those from Lyclear).
Alert close friends and family
Although having head lice can feel embarrassing, it’s important to contact anyone who may have recently been in close contact with your child.
This is to help reduce the spread and any possible future re-infestation.
Notify your child’s school or nursery
It’s not always simple to determine where your child’s head lice infestation came from. It could be a family member, friend or classmate. For this reason, it’s helpful to notify your child’s school or nursery about the problem.
Schools and nurseries will have different policies concerning how to communicate active infestations in classrooms, but one thing is for sure, your child can rely on their confidentiality and discretion.
There’s no need to keep your child off school as long as you’ve made efforts to eliminate the head lice infestation through wet combing or a medicated treatment4.
Wash combs and brushes
Head lice cannot survive off a human host for more than 1 or 2 days5. However, it’s always recommended to wash any combs and brushes of an infected person in hot water every day6. There’s no need to treat clothing or bedding that has been in contact with lice3.
Re-check all members of the household
In order to reduce the risk of anyone catching head lice again, it’s helpful to regularly check everyone in the household for head lice. To be safe, we recommend doing this once a week for at least a month after infestation.
Regular detection combing is recommended as the best way to identify a head lice infestation quickly7.
If you’ve found a living louse after using a medicated treatment, it’s worth considering the following points before assuming that the treatment method doesn’t work.
Check that enough of the treatment was applied to the hair
The amount of treatment needed depends on the length and thickness of the hair3. Was there enough volume in the product to cover the hair adequately?
Check that the product was left on long enough
Different products have different recommended times to leave the formula on for3. Be sure to check that you followed the instructions precisely in regards to application and time on the hair.
The louse you’ve found could be the result of a re-infestation. Insecticide free treatments, which use a physical mode of action like dehydration and/or suffocation, are less likely to encounter problems with head lice resistance3.
If you’ve found head lice after using a treatment, we recommend that you repeat this or alternatively switch to a different method. If you’re still struggling with head lice after a second treatment, visit your local pharmacist for more advice and information.
If you’ve been using the wet combing method and find a live louse on day 17, there are a few points to check:
If wet combing has failed, check if your louse could be the result of re-infestation from other family members. If you’ve ruled out re-infestation, you could choose to continue wet combing or choose an appropriate medicated head lice treatment.
The active ingredients found in the Lyclear range are insecticide-free and work by a physical mode of action, therefore head lice are less likely to develop a resistance.
The ingredients found in the Lyclear range include:
A silicone based active ingredient which suffocates and dehydrates head lice and eggs3. Dimeticone is one of the active ingredients which can be found in Lyclear Treatment Lotion and Lyclear Treatment Spray - used to treat children aged 6 months and older.
A patented meta-emulsion with a physical mode of action which suffocates head lice and eggs8. This ingredient is found in Lyclear Sensitive Treatment which is suitable for children aged 6 months and older9.
Works by suffocating and dehydrating head lice and eggs. A key ingredient in Lyclear Treatment Shampoo which can be recommended for children aged 2 years and above.
Lyclear offers a range of head lice treatments which are recommended by pharmacists and trusted by parents.
1 Hitchen, N. (n.d.). Results of a survey over 1 month amoung parents/ guardians attending paediatric outpatients department. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
2Head lice prevalence among households in Norway – Parasitology (Volume 138, Issue 10)
3 Scenario: Management of head lice - NICE
4Head lice and nits - NHS
5 Heads lice infestations: A clinical update – Paediatrics & Child Health
6Head lice – British Association of Dermatology
7Head lice: Evidence based guidelines on the Stafford Report – Public Health Medicine Environmental Group
8Treatment of human head lice infestations in a single application with a new galenic lotion – Militao de Sousa, 2010. International Journal of Cosmetic Science
9Lyclear Shampoo – C+D, 2018