The blight that returns every year
When day care centres and schools start their semester the traditional head lice circus starts as well.
A living head louse is a wingless insect that is a couple of millimetres long, transparent, and fast moving. Finding it can be tricky, but the most common areas are behind the ears or on the neck.
– A head louse's eggs, which are less than a millimetre long, are easier to spot. They are tightly attached to the hair and don't move like dandruff would, school nurse Marja Pietilä says.
Severe itching is sometimes the first sign of head lice, but everyone does not have this.
Prevention and treatment
Pietilä considers storing your hats and gloves inside your coat sleeve the most important method of preventing lice from spreading.
– It's good to tie long hair together and you shouldn't borrow hairbrushes or bobbles from others.
If you do find head lice there are some basics that Pietilä says are important to remember.
– All members of the family must have their hair examined with a lice comb that has dense spikes, but only those who have living head lice or their eggs on their heads should use louse shampoo to get rid of them.
The hair is washed with lice shampoo according to the instructions and the eggs are removed. The hair needs to be thoroughly checked and combed at least every second day for the next two weeks.
– Sheets and head gear must be washed in 60 degrees and mattresses can be put in a more than 80 degree sauna for a couple of hours. It's imperative that the teacher of the day care group or the school class is told about the head lice in order to stop the lice from spreading as soon as possible.
– Head lice are not a sign of bad hygiene. Anyone can get them.
Once the day care centre or the school sends a notice about head lice every family should remember to check for lice regularly for some weeks to come.