Head lice in the cap time - don't panic!

A sigh can be heard when the "lice alarm" is sounded in kindergarten or at school - especially during the time of the hats. For all parents it means: examine their children's heads and act quickly and correctly in case of lice infestation. Because if only one child continues to come into the institution with lice, the effort of the other parents is in vain and the plague starts all over again.

Head lice climb quickly from hair to hair, they cannot fly or jump. Direct physical contact, which is not uncommon in children, is important for transmission. Smaller children in particular stick their heads together much more closely than adults, for example when playing or learning. Incidentally, the length of the hair does not play a role in the transmission of lice, nor does the presence of a pet.

Head louse is a parasite that lasts for about four weeks and feeds on blood. If he does not suck blood, he dies after two to three days at the latest. That's why the louse sticks so stubbornly to her hair: she clutches herself tightly with grapple hooks to prevent slippage, because after all it's about her survival. Head lice may not be dangerous, but they are bothersome. They reach the human blood with a piercing sucking trunk. The bite is not noticeable and does not transmit any illnesses, but causes unpleasant itching. A female lice can lay up to ten eggs a day. The eggs stick it close to the scalp to the hair. These white, scale-like, sticky shells of the egg are called nits. They are mainly found behind the ears, in the neck and at the temples. It takes seven to ten days for the larva to hatch out of the egg and again until it is adult and sexually mature.

If you have noticed any nits or lice in your child, you will have to buy over-the-counter louse in the pharmacy at short notice. The funds must be paid out of your own pocket, unless the pediatrician prescribes them. The classical drug contains a lice neurotoxin with the active ingredient pyrethrum, also known as permethrin or allethrin. However, the lice become increasingly insensitive to it. New and non-toxic lice contain silicone oil Dimeticon. This penetrates into the apertures of the lice and leads to suffocation. The following applies to all remedies: the treatment must be repeated after eight to ten days in order to eliminate the hatched offspring! As not all eggs are often killed by lice, multiple additional "wet combing" is indispensable: Foam the wet hair with a conditioner so that the hair becomes smooth. Comb strand by strand with a fine-toothed nit comb - the distance between the tines is only 0.2 millimetres. If you clean the comb with a white cloth after every stroke, you will recognize combed lice. This method is therefore also suitable for control. Siblings living in the same household should also undergo the procedure. After each treatment, place the combs and brushes in hot water for ten minutes after each treatment and then clean them.

Studies have shown that there are no lice on towels, body and bed linen. Nevertheless, many parents feel more comfortable when they wash their clothes at 60 degrees Celsius and store cuddly toys, for example, in a plastic bag in the freezer for two to three days. Disinfectants and insecticides are not necessary. By the way, intensive vacuum cleaning of the apartment and the car is not absolutely necessary. Because the probability of a louse falling from a hair is very low.

If your child has lice, inform teachers, educators and your immediate environment so that other parents are warned. This does not have to be embarrassing for anyone, because head lice are not the result of poor hygiene and occur in all social classes. 85% of all children will eventually be affected by head lice.

Your child may return to school or kindergarten the day after the treatment begins. It is usually sufficient if you confirm in writing to the teachers or supervisors that you have started the treatment. Some schools and kindergartens require a certificate that certifies the treatment by the doctor.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editorial Office: Birgit Kahl-Rüther