Head Lice is not uncommon

Head Lice infestations are an increasingly common occurrence amongst school-aged children.

Whilst they are not something that you should be afraid of or overly concerned about, they do need to be treated.

Something you may not know is that many children will experience multiple infestations during a head lice "outbreak".It is important to remember which treatments you have previously used, just in case you have to go through the treatment process again in a few weeks - you probably will have to use a different treatment each time.Some fast facts about Head Lice:

  1. Adult lice cannot live for more than two days without contact with their host (your scalp!)
  2. Lice crawl; they do NOT jump, fly or hop. They can crawl quickly though.
  3. Head lice do NOT spread when the infested patient is swimming. In fact, head lice stop moving and grip tightly when their home is immersed in water. Unfortunately for us, water does not kill them - they start feeding again as soon as they are out of the water.
  4. A fine tooth comb and magnifying glass are important for diagnosis. Unassisted visual examination (just looking) only identified 50% of cases in one study.
  5. Active lice are not always brown - when they are not feeding they can be clear, so very hard to see.
  6. Lice can survive for more than one hour without oxygen, so don’t be surprised to see what is known as the “resurrection effect”, where lice appear to come back from the dead after treatment. 
  7. Nits (head lice eggs) take between seven and 10 days to hatch, so reapplication of head lice treatment is often necessary a week or so after initial treatment.
References:
Bouvresse, S., Berdjane, Z., Durand, R., Bouscaillou, J., Izri, A., & Chosidow, O. (2012). Permethrin and malathion resistance in head lice: results of ex vivo and molecular assays. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 67(6), 1143–50. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2012.04.011
Eisenhower, C., & Farrington, E. A. (2012). Advancements in the treatment of head lice in pediatrics. Journal of Pediatric Health Care : Official Publication of National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners, 26(6), 451–61; quiz 462–4. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2012.05.004
Ovid: Topical 0.5% Ivermectin Lotion for Treatment of Head Lice. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2015, from http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/sp-3.13.1a/ovidweb.cgi?Parison, J. C., Speare, R., & Canyon, D. V. (2013). Head lice: the feelings people have. International Journal of Dermatology, 52(2), 169–71. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.05300.x