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Nits - What You Need To Know But Don't Really Want To!

July 16th, 2017
Nits - What You Need To Know But Don't Really Want To!
Ah, the long lost days of the nit nurse. Back before we all got a bit too PC for our own good a visit from the nit nurse at school was a regular event. In fact even now when the dreaded poster is blue tacked to the classroom door (you know the one: head lice have been confirmed in the class please check your child's hair) I will often hear parents lament, "bring back the nit nurse".

The trouble is often that they just aren't treated effectively and like Arnie threatening 'Hasta La Vista baby', they keep coming back.

Now I'm quite sure you are already self consciously scratching at the mere mention of the word nits, but as adverse as we all are of discussing head lice there are some facts worth knowing.

1. The eggs are the nits, once they are hatched they are lice. So although we usually talk about nits, this actually only refers to the eggs, rather than the living creature.

2. It's far easier to spot the egg (nit) than the lice. Unless you have a really bad infestation you are unlikely to see any live lice, but should instead keep an eye out for the nits, which are usually tiny yellow or brown dots.

3. Baby lice are called nymphs (forever ruining the mythological image of woodland nymphs or fairies ) and take up to two weeks to grow to adult size. In case you were wondering, even fully grown lice are only roughly the size of a poppy seed.

4. The growth cycle of a nit to nymph to fully grown, egg laying, lice takes about three weeks; hence the need to repeat treatments and keep using a nit comb to remove eggs!

5) Itching is actually caused by the saliva from the lice biting the scalp (a pleasant image for you there!)

So as Jennifer Anniston would say, "That's the science bit" (imagine her luscious locks advertising nit lotion!). But what we really want to know is how to treat them.

As I mentioned earlier, lice need more than one treatment to ensure the eggs don't hatch so often you'll find an outbreak in the classroom becomes a vicious cycle, with kids spreading them about quicker than Paddington eating marmalade sandwiches.

Naturally, you'll rush down to the local supermarket and pick yourself up an extortionately priced treatment. Despite what it claims, however, about killing eggs etc, do use a proper fine-tooth nit comb as well to rid the hair of nits. Then repeat the treatment around three weeks later.

Finally make sure you speak to any setting your child attends (nursery/school etc) and get them to notify other parents to ensure they treat their children as well, or you'll just catch them again. Don't worry, no one will paint a neon sign pointing to your child. The stigma of nits is by and large gone as people have realised it's not a sign of dirty hair or poor health. Most of us appreciate you're unlikely to avoid them forever and sympathise with those that do. That being said my son has got through his first year of school nit and lice free and we spray regularly with a preventative spray (smells delicious) so I would recommend giving them a go.

Well now you know your nits from your nymphs remember to treat and repeat. I'm off to give in to my nit paranoia and pick though my kids hair like a monkey on overdrive!

Hayley x

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