The course begins in schools and with it, concern about pediculosis or lice infestation, one of the most frequent health problems among the school population. According to data from the Ministry of Health , between 4.9% and 14% of school-age children have ever suffered from this problem, mainly those minors between 3 and 11 years old . However, pediculosis can affect people of all ages. Aurora Garre, medical adviser to Cinfa Laboratories , points out that “although lice do not cause serious health disorders or transmit diseases, they are very annoying and highly contagious.” For this reason, it is very important that, as soon as a case of pediculosis is detected,the hair of all the relatives is reviewed, and it is advised in the school so that they take the pertinent measures .
Lice appear on clean hair, experts say
“False beliefs about lice make their prevention and treatment very difficult, since for years they have been associated with poor hygiene, and this makes many parents embarrassed when they find out that their children have pediculosis and do not notify them, thus which increases the risk of contagion among children in the same class, “explains the Cinfa expert. “However, this is not true. In fact, lice appear on clean hair.
The lendrera, key to detection
When detecting the presence of lice, the typical symptom is itchy or itchy scalp. When perceiving this sign, Dr. Garre advises «to carry out a thorough examination of the hair with a comb, a metal barbed comb very close together, to comb each strand and drag nits or lice. It is advisable to do it with wet hair, since in this environment the lice move more slowly, and place a white cloth on the child’s shoulders, to be able to see the lice when they fall ». From there, and if the presence of live head lice is confirmed, a pediculicide treatment must be applied. And it is that these insects survive in the water and do not drown , so they cannot be eliminated simply by washing the head. A haircut doesn’t fix the problem either, since they nest interchangeably in long and short hair.
Treatments should not be used as preventives in case there are no lice
However, the expert insists that pediculicide treatments should only be used in cases of infestation: “they should not be used as preventives in the absence of lice, since they are not effective in this way. For these cases, there are specific repellents ». Along with all this, Dr. Garre recommends following hygiene habits and measures to prevent pediculosis.
Decalogue of tips to combat them
1.Check the hair of the whole family. When there is a case of pediculosis in the family or at school, or itching is perceived on the scalp, it is advisable to carefully review the hair of all members of the family. During the school period, it is advisable to supervise the children’s heads weekly.
- Resort to the lendrera. They are special combs with fine metal spikes that facilitate the job of combing hair strand by strand.
3.Do not forget to remove the nits. Nits, or lice eggs, deserve special attention, as they are usually difficult to see and, if not removed, hatch after days, so the infestation persists.
- Consult with the pharmacist. In case of finding lice, the way to eliminate them is by using shampoos, lotions or pediculicide foams, sold in pharmacies. It is very important to consult the pharmacist about the most appropriate treatment in each case, as well as the method of application, since incorrect use can generate resistance in lice, thus making treatment difficult.
5.Apply pediculicide treatment on dry hair. When applying the treatments, it is advisable to do it on dry hair, since the water could dilute its effectiveness, massage the area slightly, and follow the application times indicated by the manufacturer and the pharmacist.
6.Avoid hot air from the dryers. After applying pediculicide treatments, we will avoid using hot air hair dryers, since they inactivate the residual insecticidal effect.
- Resort to lice repellents. Pediculicide treatments should not be used to avoid contagion, as they are not effective and this use can be harmful. On the contrary, to prevent infestation, or to prevent a new contagion once the lice have been eradicated, we will use a specific repellent product.
8.Do not share clothes that have contact with hair. So that other people are not infested, we must avoid sharing all those items that may have contact with the hair: combs, headbands, hats, scarves, etc.
- Wash with hot water and iron. It is advisable to boil the combs and hair items of infested people or clean them with a pediculicide. Likewise, clothing, sheets and towels should be washed at a temperature above 60ºC and iron the seams well, since lice do not resist heat.
10.Isolate and vacuum the objects. Objects that cannot be washed (for example, stuffed animals) must be placed in a closed bag for 3 days: since lice feed every 4-6 hours on the host’s blood, they cannot live as long in isolation and will die. Later, it is convenient to vacuum these objects, as well as the sofas, seats and mattresses.
The louse is an insect of less than 4 mm, elongated shape and brownish color. It feeds on human blood, so it is not transmitted through animals or pets. It has three pairs of legs and does not fly or jump, it only walks, so the only way it is spread is through direct contact between heads or by sharing combs, hats, etc.