Tuesday, 2 October 2012

How to Treat Head Lice in Toddlers

It’s hard enough to get small children to sit still long enough to brush their hair, never mind doing a nit check. Most of them hate their hair being fiddled with. I know one child who was taken to the hairdresser, got his hair washed ready for his haircut, then decided he didn’t want to get his hair cut after all and proceeded warming up his lungs for a big full-blown tantrum, rivaling the sound of a pipe band. His mother hopes and prays that he never gets nits, as she fears that he would cultivate a forest of lice on his head by the time he went to school. 

So what is the best way to handle the situation with truculent toddlers? When there is a head lice problem you don’t want them freaking out with the knowledge that they’ve got beasties creeping around on the head. 

Head lice feed on blood and take up residence on human scalps. They are quite common in young children, especially when start mixing with other children at nursery or school. They present no danger, but they are highly irritating. 

If you see your toddler scratching his head repeatedly, especially during the night when lice are more active, you’d better have a closer look at their scalp. Often small children, unable to communicate the cause of the irritation, will start scratching so much they develop sores on the scalp. 

How to Recognise Head lice:
They are the size of a sesame seed, are off-white in colour. Nits, their eggs, can be white or yellow. Head lice can spread by crawling from head to head, through close contact. You can also catch them by using other people’s hairbrushes. They can only crawl, so rest assured they won’t jump onto you.

How to get rid of lice and nits:
There are two ways: You can buy shampoos or lotions to eradicate lice and their nits. These should work almost immediately. But do be careful with using these products, as they should not be used on smaller children. It’s always best to consult a doctor to make get approval on a product. If you don’t want to use them for health or environmental reasons, you can do it the natural way and wet your toddler’s hair first, then use a nit comb or a fine-tooth comb to comb through every other day. It’s best to put some conditioner on the child’s head before you do this, to prevent tangles and tantrums. Separate small sections and work systematically to get through every area.

Another way of getting rid of them is to use white vinegar, rinse and leave for a few minutes, then wash it out. Just take precautions and make sure it doesn’t go into the toddler’s eyes. 

If you are worried about the survival of the lice, take heart that they cannot survive longer than 2 days when removed from the scalp. Discard or scrub all hairbrushes and combs used by the household and wash all bedding at a high temperature to kill the lice and nits. Sticking to some basic methods of eradication will create a lice free household.

About the Author: Joseph Kelly has over 7 years experience writing and publishing articles about childcare education and parenting. He has 2 children aged 5 and 7. He writes on a regular basis for a Dublin based childcare provider.