EXPERTS have shared images of the worst cases of nits they've ever seen – as they urge parents to check their kids' heads before schools return on Tuesday.
NitNot founder Eileen Hutchinson said in some cases kids had been dealing with recurring infections for over a year – leaving "the whole family suffering".
Sharing the above image of one awful case, she warns: "This shows a really bad infection caused by head lice infestation.
"It's important to take head lice seriously as an infection like this can be dangerous."
Ian Burgess, the Director of Medical Entomology at the Insect Research and Development Limited, says: "Some people only develop harsh reactions like that after months of infestation, some after only a short time if they have had them before."
Eileen adds: "We don't usually see cases this bad at the clinic, especially with several families seeking help for horrendous infestations like we are dealing with now over the phone and via messenger.
"It's unheard of. Parents struggle to deal with it themselves when it gets to this stage.
"These families have been dealing with reoccurring infestations for over a year now and it's the whole family suffering.
It's important to take head lice seriously as an infection like this can be dangerous
"I have spoken to these parents and supported them on treatment, the family in photo one only spotted the infestation after the dad saw them crawling on his beard in the mirror.
"Thick hair easily covers them and they like to be close to warm moist scalps behind the ears and the nape of the neck where it's hard to spot them.
"People don't realise how difficult they can be to get rid of, they don't think they could still have lice after treating, but not all treatments are 100 per cent effective."
Eileen says: "I would advise parents to have a thorough check now before going back to school.
"Use a separate brush for every member of the family to avoid spreading, and advise children not to share brushes with friends when back at school.
"Keep long hair tied up in a bun plait or a ponytail at the nape of the neck, children find it hard to keep a distance even in lockdown and long hair can catch lice easily."
How to check for lice
Eileen says: "To check for lice, use a nit comb on wet hair – after bath time is a great time to look. Separate the hair into straight line sections, using clips to keep hair secure in each section. Let down one section at a time, positioning the teeth of the lice to comb at the top of the hair shaft at a 16-degree angle out.
"Gently pull the comb down the length of the hair from the root to end. Wipe the nit comb on a tissue and look for lice, baby lice and eggs."
What you're looking for
- Eggs – the brown and tan flecks, measuring around 2mm in length, are similar to the shape of a sesame seed.
- Lice are up to 4mm long and light tan or brown.
- Baby lice can be tiny and may be identified on the tissue as darker specks alongside the eggs.
- Any reddish-brown stains are lice poo.
What to do if you find lice
If you find evidence of a louse, the NHS recommends combing. The best time to deal with infestation like checking is after washing and conditioning hair when it is thoroughly wet through.
Like when checking section the hair and let down one section at a time, positioning the teeth of the lice to comb at the top of the hair shaft at a 16-degree angle out gently pull the comb down the length of the hair from the root to the end.
Wipe the nit comb on a tissue and look for lice, baby lice and eggs. Uou can keep on repeating this combing down in sections until the tissue is clear of specks or lice.
Keep the cleared parts away from hair that has not been treated. After each section is combed, check for eggs, and use a tweezer to slide eggs down the hair shaft and off the hair.
Sterilise combs and put clips and bands in a plastic bag after washing. Do not use for at least three days.
If using the combing method, you must comb every 3 to 4 days until the entire infestation has been removed. This can take up to a month, depending on the severity of the outbreak.
NitNOT lice comb that is designed for tear-free combing for all hair types and will also remove nits and eggs unlike standard nit combs, available for £10 from Amazon.
Alternatively, you can purchase a standard lice comb from your local pharmacy that will be sufficient for removing most lice, whilst nits can be pulled down and off the hair with a tweezer or between fingernails.
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