Whether parents saw their children off to school this week with a sigh of relief or a tear, there’s one fear they all shared.
The dreaded battle between children and the blood-sucking insects that like to live in their hair- nits.
The head louse, or Pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people, particularly children. They feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp.
In a statement, NSW Health Pathology’s medical entomologist and bug expert, Dr Cameron Webb, said children were more likely to catch lice as they often sit or play close together whether in class or in the playground.
“This allows the lice to move from child to child much more easily,” he said.
“Despite what many people think, head lice can’t jump from head to head, they require hair from two different children to be touching to spread,” he said.
The only place head lice can survive is on the human head, and they’ve adapted to survive off a person’s scalp – which means they’ve become resistant to a lot of chemicals.
Dr Webb said the old-fashioned method of a lice comb and hair conditioner was one of the most effective ways to remove lice.
“When treating head lice, use the lice comb to look for live lice moving about and comb them out,” he said
“I recommend at least two treatments about a week apart to ensure all adult head lice are killed, any remaining eggs have hatched and the new head lice are caught before more eggs can be laid.”
Contrary to what people may say, Dr Webb confirmed that head lice was not an indication of poor hygiene.
“[It’s] simply head lice doing what they do best in an environment that allows them to thrive,” he said.
“Research shows up to one third of Australian primary school aged children have head lice at any one time – that’s potentially around 700,000 kids.”
Would you like more Dubbo and regional news?
You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below: