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Headlice - How do you know if they've got them?

(35 Posts)
fio2 Tue 17-Feb-04 08:56:41

What do they look like? My friends kids had them recently and the school have had them also, but I dont know what to look for. Ds seems to have loads of grainy stuff in his hair this morning and I dont know what it is. I cant stop scratching my head either but I am sure this is just paranoia! Any explanations appreciated!

M2T Tue 17-Feb-04 09:14:52

Fio2 - They look like little fleas. The 'nits' are the eggs which look like dandruff until you get closer and see they are tiny balls.

I knew I had when I found one crawling around my hairbrush! YUCK! And I could feel them crawling on my scalp. I've had them twice in my teens. There is a bit of an outbreak at ds's nursery so I'm keeping a close eye on him. Check the scalp behind the ears and around the back of the head as that seems to be their favourite hiding places.

If you're not sure then just treat him for it anyway as the stuff usually protects for a few weeks afterwards too.

You've made me itchy now!

Beccarollover Tue 17-Feb-04 09:17:01

Wet comb your hair with lots of conditioner and nit comb and you will not miss them if you do have them - wet combing is good as preventative measure and early detection too.

Twinkie Tue 17-Feb-04 09:21:49

Look at the nape of his neck - look really closely - you can see them moving around - little bug like things!!

marialuisa Tue 17-Feb-04 09:26:04

They also like the area behind the ears (anywhere it's warm basically). If you have fair hair they're quite easy to spot, little black specks usually near the roots. DD has just had her first case and as she has long, thick hair we've had lots of fun getting rid of them. you've just started me scratching again!!

Pacific Tue 17-Feb-04 09:54:58

fio2, you need to get a louse comb from the chemist. A metal one is best but a plastic one is gentler and does the job. Section your childs hair, insert the comb close to the scalp and pull it right through to the end. If there are any lice, you will catch them and see them quite easily. Eggs are a little more difficult to see but can still be seen if caught in the comb.

Now, if there is an infestation, you can treat it. There are two ways to do this.

Wash the childs hair and lather on conditioner, then rinse it out. You then need to comb it thouroughly all over with the louse comb to remove as many lice as possible. You need to do this every two or three days for two weeks. This will catch all the hatching lice before they reach maturity and can lay eggs.

The second way is with chemical louse shampoos. Personally, I do not like them. In my opinion they are not effective as most lice are immune to them. But what I find more worrying is that they are very powerful incecticides being applied directly to childrens skin. These are the same chemicals that are in fly sprays. However, if you decide to use them, follow the pharmacists and manufacturers instructions. I personally would not use them 'just in case'.


WideWebWitch Tue 17-Feb-04 10:05:44

Agree with Pacific, if you comb with conditioner and a nit comb you'll soon see them (or not). Also, a good clue is they will be itchy!

fio2 Tue 17-Feb-04 12:25:01

Thank you everyone, I will try the conditioner and louse comb thing tommorrow. All I have done is itch all day, but really there is no evidence that I have them - just my mind playing tricks on me

Pacific I was dubious too about using the chemical shampoo as we all have to be careful anyway because we all have sensitive skin and eczema. SIL suggested tea tree shampoo is just as good a deterant too.

Thank you very much from the nit family xx

roisin Tue 17-Feb-04 12:31:32

Look away if squeamish! ... this is what they look like Scroll down to the bottom for the pictures. The babies are tiny - c.1mm long - adults up to about 4 mm long.

When you comb, put loads of conditioner on, after each sweep through, wipe off onto some kitchen roll - you'll soon tell if you've got them.

Bug busting - i.e. getting rid of them without chemicals really does work. We spotted an adult louse in ds2's hair about 10 days ago. We combed every other day. The first night we combed out 2 babies, then 5, then 12, then 15, then 3, then none I'll keep checking to make sure he's completely clear.

roisin Tue 17-Feb-04 12:33:28

Also fio2 - if you're are checking, rather than combing to get rid of them - the first places to check are behind the ears and the nape of the neck.

The good news is boys with shorter hair are quicker/easier to comb!

fio2 Tue 17-Feb-04 12:37:48

Thanks for that link roisin, I will know what to look for now. I think I will shave ds's hair again anyway (he usually has a grade 2!) It will be dd's hair that will take longer. I cant see any behind the ears or the neck though, so shall just wait til I comb them tommorrow.

roisin Tue 17-Feb-04 16:47:51

Sorry - didn't realise you had a dd as well ... wouldn't have done the gloating about boys' short hair if I'd known Hope she hasn't got long, thick, curly hair ...?!

debra64 Mon 23-Feb-04 09:47:06

My step daughter got them a while ago and I was itching and paranoid - never had them with the boys. Not sure if thats because of their short hair or just they don't seem to attract them. Apparently head lice like the smell of some people better than others! When my stepdaughter got them I only noticed one dark coloured live lice in her blond hair (a dark haired friend had passed them on). After pulling that one out and searching for more, once I'd calmed down I read up a lot on the net (including 'bug busting' and became an expert nit picker! She has very long blond hair so I had to painstakingly go through it section by section but they were gone within three days. She only had eggs once I'd got rid of the one live one. They made her scalp feel sandy. I actually pulled each egg off each hair with my nails - I'm pretty sure this is the only sure way to get rid of them quickly. I checked her hair every day for a week but found no more after the first three days. I checked every other day for the second week but still found no more. I also sent her to bed with olive oil all over her hair and head for a couple of nights as that is supposed to smother the live lice if any do hatch out. Its best to do this every five days as thats how long they take to hatch out. I did it for a second time even though I hadn't found any eggs - just the thought that I only needed to miss two tiny eggs for it all to start again made me do it to make sure! Since then I've used tea tree shampoo and leave in conditioner on her hair since they apparently don't like the smell of tea tree oil and can't cling to well conditioned hair. I also always tie her hair up so its less likely to come into contact with anyone elses. It all seems to work since I haven't had a re-visit for months, despite numerous letters from school about other children having them.

juniper68 Mon 23-Feb-04 10:12:10

I've just found some in my eldest ds's hair but can't find any in my youngest ds's hair? Eldest is blond and youngest dark. I've smothered Eldest's hair in olive oil mixed with tea tree oil and put a shower cap (free from hotels! ) on overnight for 2 nights. Today I'm off to get a nit comb. I pulled at least 4 out of his hair on Saturday night whilst he was in the bath and can't see any more. I really feel for those with girls and long hair though as it's hard enough with boys.
take care
Juniper x

robinw Mon 23-Feb-04 16:07:34

message withdrawn

Jaybee Mon 23-Feb-04 16:19:56

I recently bought some head lice repellent from Tesco and we have not had any head lice since we have been using it - a friend whose daughter seems to be plagued by them has also seen a massive difference since using this repellent. It is lavender and tea tree based and you can spray it into either wet or dry hair - it comes in a small green bottle - although I can't remember it's name at the moment.

fio2 Mon 23-Feb-04 17:30:18

we do all have headlice btw! I cant beleive I asked what they looked like! they are not that hard to see and are itching me like mad! Hopefully they will all go soon

debra64 Mon 23-Feb-04 18:11:13

Oh dear - I don't envy you at all - once I got over the initial creeply crawly feeling, I was quite efficient at picking the eggs off my stepdaughter's hair and luckily they stopped there. I thank my lucky stars she didn't have a headful of live lice or I might not have managed to calm down! Maybe I was lucky and caught them on the first day!

The boys and I never got them but I kept getting my mother to check my head and was really worried how I would get them all out of my own hair! My mother said she would do it but I know how painstaking I had to be doing my stepdaughter's, and really didn't trust anyone else to be that detailed about it! I also gave myself the olive oil treatment at five day intervals, just in case.

I've seen the repellant and have heard that is good too, but I just use the shampoo and conditioner all the time and then its not something I have to remember to do. I have five bottles of shampoo and three of conditioner and they are all variations on the tea tree oil theme. There is no other shampoo in the house so we can't help but use it!

Good luck with your bug busting!

roisin Mon 23-Feb-04 18:17:03

Jaybee - I would be interested in the name of the spray on repellent, if you can recall it. Ds2 is in a reception class that seems to be plagued by the little beasties, and he does have a tendency to be quite cuddly and has lots of little girl friends with long hair. So I'm sure the recent bout will not be the last.

Fio2 - sorry to hear you've all got them - that is a real pain, as it's harder work to get rid of them all. Hope you are all clear soon.

Caroline5 Mon 23-Feb-04 18:34:48

We have a repellent spray from Asda called Tea Tree and Lavender Head Lice Repellent. It is a green spray in a small bottle. It makes the hair look slightly greasy and smells quite strong, but it does seem to have worked (so far....)

Fio, sorry to hear you are infested with the vile beasties! I am dreading my dds getting them, as they both have curly tangly hair and hate having it brushed, let alone combed.

debra64 Mon 23-Feb-04 18:40:32

The repellant I saw was in Tesco's - not sure if it was their own make and can't remember the name of it, but it was tea tree oil and lavender too.

suedonim Mon 23-Feb-04 21:13:54

Our schools have just put out a new leaflet about headlice. Apparently teatree oil is totally ineffective against nits and lice.

They recommend simple combing with lots of conditioner, and using the locally approved chemical shampoo if the infestation is very bad or you really feel you must. We've only had them once - never again, I hope, horrible things.

robinw Tue 24-Feb-04 07:01:40

message withdrawn

JanHR Wed 25-Feb-04 21:33:17

We have just had an email from friends we met at the weekend. Their 13 month old DD has hedlice. I will be checking my DD in the morning. DP was all for waking her up now to check, but I said to wait.

hovely Tue 16-Mar-04 13:28:43

stupid question - do you have to do extra cleaning of bedding etc, eg extra hot wash or anything? Also should you do conditioner combing for whole household even if no obvious signs in others' hair?

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