How should I check for head lice?
A technique known as “wet combing” is considered to be an effective method of detecting head lice. To do this, first wash the hair with an ordinary shampoo and apply conditioner before detangling the hair with a wide tooth comb. Once the hair has been detangled change to a fine-toothed “nit comb” (available in pharmacies) and comb through the hair methodically, starting at the roots and going down to the hair tips with each stroke. Check the comb for lice after each stroke. Once you have finished rinse out the conditioner and repeat the procedure. Wet combing can be carried out on a regular basis to check for lice before they can spread to other family members.
How are head lice treated?
As mentioned above, treatment should not be started until at least one live, moving louse has been found. An itchy scalp alone does not warrant treatment as dandruff or other skin conditions may be causing the problem. Once the presence of lice has been confirmed treatment can be started.
Washing the hair may dislodge a few active lice but the eggs will remain unharmed and able to hatch. Treatment with a lotion, mousse, solution or shampoo containing a chemical that will kill the lice is required. Available head lice treatments include ivermectin (Sklice), malathion (Ovide), permethrin (Nix) and benzyl alcohol (Ulesfia). These preparations are known as pediculicides.
They are applied to the hair and left for some time before rinsing off (see specific instructions on the packaging). Lotions and solutions are generally considered to be more effective than shampoos because they remain in contact with the hair for a longer time. One treatment is usually sufficient to kill lice, but follow up in one or two weeks is advisable to kill any lice that may have hatched after treatment.