Indeed, somewhat ironically, the first time I had head lice myself was as an adult, when I first started teaching. I don't know why head lice are more prevalent these days, although I suspect that getting rid of those Nit Nurses didn't help. And I am certain that the few parents who don't ever bother to treat their children's hair don't help. There were two particular families at our school who never bothered, and their poor children's hair was rife with the little blighters, to the extent that they were falling out on to the desk in front of them, and you can see the seething mass in their hair. Just gross.
However, most of us will do whatever we can to treat our children should the blighters take up residence, and many of us look for ways to prevent infestation in the first place. Many people recommend the use of tea tree oil to both prevent and treat head lice, and we have been trying out Teangi Shampoo and Conditioner, designed to prevent the infestation of head lice in the first place.
What Are Head Lice
Head lice are grey-brown in colour, the size of a pinhead when hatched and of a sesame seed when fully grown. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fly, jump or swim and are spread only by head-to-head contact, climbing from the hair of an infected person to the hair of someone else. Head lice only affect humans and cannot be passed on to animals or be caught from them. A head lice infestation is not the result of dirty hair or poor hygiene. Head lice can actually affect all types of hair, irrespective of its condition and length.
How to Spot Head Lice
In most cases, itching is the main symptom of head lice. This is not caused by the lice biting the scalp, but by an allergy to the lice. However, not everyone experiences itching. It's not always easy to see head lice in the hair or on the scalp, so detection combing is the best way of finding head lice. Detection combs are available from pharmacies.
Treating Head Lice
Usually, head lice can be treated effectively using medicated lotions or by wet combing, using a specially designed head lice comb. Wet combing can be used without medicated lotions, but needs to be done regularly and can take a long time to do thoroughly. Medicated lotions or sprays can be used as an alternative.
A survey by tea tree hair care brand Teangi recently revealed that 60% of parents were dreading the return to school this month for this tiny, and very itchy, reason. 2,000 parents of school age children were asked what they dread most out their return to school and six out of ten agreed that the idea of dealing with head lice was by far the worst implication of walking back through the school gates this autumn. Over 40% of parents said their number one worry is the thought of the head lice getting passed around the family, and nearly a third said that dealing with the messy treatments is also a big fear.
Prevention with Teangi
Luckily, tea tree oil can act as a natural preventative as it is a natural insect repellant. Working like a normal shampoo and leave-in conditioner, the Teangi products are convenient and easy to apply, and they also contain ingredients which nourish and moisturise hair, rather than stripping all the goodness out.
The Tea Tree shrub is native to a small region in northern New South Wales Australia and the oil is recognised as a powerful healing ingredient around the world. It has several well-established properties that provide the basis for its special soothing effects: natural antibacterial, natural antiseptic, anti-fungal and insect repellent. The Teangi range also includes a Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Cream to effectively treat and relieve stings, cuts, minor burns, nappy rash and other minor skin conditions (£3.35); and a 100% pure pharmaceutical grade Tea Tree Oil (£4.19).
Teangi Tea Tree Shampoo contains 2% pure tea tree oil. Tea Tree is natural insect repellent and antiseptic with anti-bacterial properties keeping hair clean and free of dandruff. This PH-balanced medicated shampoo also contains special anti-tangling ingredient to make combing easier. RRP £3.85.
Teangi Tea Tree Conditioner is a leave-in product and also contains 2% pure tea tree oil, RRP £3.45.
Teangi products are not tested on animals and contains no animal ingredients. they are widely available from selected supermarkets and pharmacies.
Treatment with Boots
If the critters do manage to strike, the Boots Electronic Head Lice Comb is a brilliant idea. Used on tangle-free combed dry hair, the electronic comb glides through hair, detecting and killing live lice. It is suitable for children aged 3+. Please read all the instructions before use. Available from Boots in store and online, priced £20.79.
Also available is Boots Head Lice Solution, which is clinically proven to kill head lice and remove eggs in 15 minutes. With a pesticide-free, non-drip formula, it is kinder to skin but still effective, and has a less offensive odour than many products on the market. It is priced £9.99