10 tips to win the war on nits
Head lice. For many parents it feels like a constant battle, and there's no question who's winning.
Head lice have had a long time to perfect their survival strategy, after all. The earliest recordings of lice are from Ancient Eygpt, where they were found on mummies, and head lice combs buried in tombs.
Head lice can survive under water for several hours. They attach themselves to your scalp with glue. They can even change their colour as camoflague depending on the colour hair they're in. These critters are next-level battle strategists. But you can be smarter.
1. Train your troops to use their head
To keep it away from others', that is. Contrary to popular opinion head lice can't leap or jump from head to head, they can only crawl. But they crawl fast... just a fleeting touch of hair to another child's hair will be enough to transfer them.
Teach your children never to put their heads next to their friends' heads when playing. A simple saying like "Play together - no heads together!" might do (feel free to come up with something catchier!).
Yes, we know it's hard to "train" children to do anything, but this one is 100% worth a shot.
2. Choose your weapons - a hairbrush and hair ties, that is.
As mentioned above, just the briefest of hair-to-hair contact can cause nits to transfer, so the closer and tighter your child's hairdo, the better.
Good options include plaits, braids (Google "How to braid" on You Tube for some easy tutorials) or a ballet bun at the back or top of the head. If you've got more time, small bunches or twisted braids also look fantastic. But on a regular school day, a single tight plait is a great go-to.
3. Strengthen your defences
Since you have to brush your child's hair every day, use this time to your advantage with an essential-oil based head lice repellant spray like Euky Bear's Spray & Defend.
Make it a habit to use this on your kids' hair on school days and you're guaranteed protection for 8 hours. And since it contains lovely moisturising oils (that smell amazing), it doubles as a conditioning & detangling spray too.
4. Know your enemy
It's not that kid over there who always has grubby hands. Nor is it the curly haired child. There are a lot of urban myths but no matter what people think, head lice don't "prefer" a particular type of hair or a certain type of child.
They'll go for any scalp, whether that hair is dirty, clean, thick, red, blond, brown or curly. Long hair has slightly more chance of catching them, but that's just due to the fact there's more opportunity to grab on.
They don't discriminate due to hygiene or social status either, and are found in every socio-ecconomic bracket and in private schools just as much as public. Catching head lice might be unlucky, but it's not "unclean".
5. Use tech wisely
Recent reports suggest the trend of taking "selfies" with friends may contribute to spreading nits around the school yard.
Since kids have iPads at school now from primary school in some cases, it's worth discussing with your child to keep heads away from their friends' in group photos.
6. Don't listen to counter-intelligence
We've all heard the old wives tales. "I tried everything and then I finally used (insert dog flea or tick shampoo here). Amazing!".
The list of home remedies tried by desperate parents on the internet forums is long and frightening. Kerosene. Vaseline. Garlic. Coca Cola. Mayonnaise. Repeat after us: Do Not Use Pet or Food Products on Children's Hair!.
Many of these can be extremely dangerous (not to mention flammable), and cause bad allergic reactions or worse.
7. Look out for hidden enemies
No matter how many defensive tactics you employ there's always a chance of nits. Keeping a sharp eye out weekly is your best way of quickly getting on top of any potential situation.
During a breakout at school, weekly comb-throughs with conditioner are a good idea (maybe in the bath), because head lice run so quickly they can skeddadle by the time you've finished parting the hair to look.
Another tip? Look behind the ears. It's warm there, and along with the nape of the neck, it's the favourite spot for nits to hide & lay eggs. When applying nit product it's really important to apply it behind ears, too.
8. Don't wait for a signal (ie. itching)
Fact: some children can have head lice and never feel itchy. How much we itch is dependent on how 'allergic' we are to head lice saliva. Some children aren't. So they don't itch but can still be infested with lice. Always check!
9. Employ natural weapons
Essential oils have natural insecticide properties and used around the home during an outbreak or if you have a play date, can be a great detterent for extra peace of mind.
The most popular ones are tea tree oil, eucalyptus and lemon eucalyptus. Wash your child's sheets, pillow and bedding using a few capfuls of eucalyptus oil. Spray school caps and hair brushes with tea tree spray, particularly if they're shared.
Head lice don't live long off the head but after an outbreak in the home, it's often better safe than sorry.
10. Bring out the big guns
Let's face it, despite every best effort, sometimes the little buggers get through your defences. Wiping them out quick is now your priority.
Euky Bear's Blitz Nitz Lotion is Australia's fastest head lice treatment, harnessing the natural properties of essential oils to work in just 5 minutes - clinically proven. Or if you prefer a foaming style product, try Blitz Nitz Mousse. It's no drip, no fuss, and super easy to apply. And neither product uses chemical weapons to do the job. Winning!
The Blitz Nitz range is available at Chemist Warehouse and online.