IT'S every parent's fear to see their kid scratching at their head frantically when they come from school.
Looks like that fear has been realised for many since classes started this month, as the number of people seeking NHS advice on head lice has jumped by a third.
Figures released by NHS England, which runs the NHS website, show there were 12,720 weekly visits to the health advice page on head lice and nits between September 15 to 21.
This was a 34 per cent increase from the9,524 site visits recorded at the start of the month, September 1 to 7.
According to NHSE, visits peaked on Monday 18 September.
There were a whopping 2,196 visits that day – the equivalent of one click every 39 seconds.
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This surge in numbers coincides with schools opening their doors after the holidays and children flocking to classrooms.
Contrary to popular belief, lice and nits have nothing to do with cleanliness or having dirty hair.
The little critters tend to speak from head-to-head contact and the sharing of items such as hats and hairbrushes.
Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “Head lice and nits are a common issue, especially among young children and families in close contact with one another.
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“Once detected, there is no need to consult a GP, but treatment should begin immediately and all household members should be checked and treated to stop further spread," she added.
Head lice are the tan coloured creatures you might be able to see running across your child's scalp or hair.
Meanwhile, nits are the head eggs that are attached to the base of the strands. They may look like dandruff, but if take a closer look you can see that they're oval shaped instead of flat.
There are a number of ways to get rid of the critters – but it could take a couple weeks to do away with them for good.
The NHS recommends wet combing as the most effective way of treating and preventing head lice by:
- Washing hair with ordinary shampoo
- Smothering hair in any type of conditioner
- Combing the whole head from root to tip with a special fine-toothed detection comb available from pharmacists or online
- Repeating this process on days one, five, nine and 13 to catch any newly-hatched head lice
- Checking again that everyone is lice-free on day 17
It can take about 10 minutes to comb through short hair, but set aside up to half an hour to work through long, frizzy or curly hair.
If your tot comes back home with an itchy head, you should also check everyone else in the house too. No need to disinfect your whole house, because the transmission of head lice from inanimate objects is rare.
But washing hats, pillow cases and other items that touch the head in hot water may help contain head lice.
If wet combing doesn't work, you can also try medicated lotions and sprays that kill lice – you can get these at supermarkets and pharmacies.
Numark lead information pharmacist Kenny Chan told Sun Health that it's possible to develop resistance to some insecticide treatments.
Products containing dimeticone, which suffocates the lice by coating their surfaces, should be fine to use without the likelihood of them no longer working after a while.
But the lice can become resistant to treatments with chemical insecticides that are meant to poison them.
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"Wet combing and products containing dimeticone is the recommended first line treatment for pregnant or breast-feeding women, young children aged between six months to two years and people with asthma or eczema," Kenny advised.
Kenny and Sadik Al-Hassan – pharmacist PillTime Pharmacy Bristol – recommended a few cheap lice and nit remedies you can go for.
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