Updated: Mar 14, 2018
Smartphones and selfies have been blamed for a rise in nits among children. Preventing head lice is very difficult, but there are ways you might be able to cut your children’s chances of getting them. Here is why experts say nits could be on the rise - and what you can do about it:
- School pupils or siblings might be putting their heads together more to take selfies, or watch videos on phones.
- They may also be sharing headphones to listen to things together more, meaning their heads are much more likely to touch.
This was backed up by a piece of research last year which showed children with such devices were more likely to get nits.
The Oxford University Hospitals Trust researchers also told a Liverpool dermatologists’ conference that estimated head lice rates among children were on the rise.
So if you want to cut your child’s risk, it may be worth advising them to keep their head apart from other children when using phones or doing other activities, and if your children often watch or listen to things together at home with the same earphones, you could consider buying them a split headphone jack and another pair.
The madeformums.com website suggests it might help to avoid sharing hats, hairbrushes, towels and combs among siblings. Some people have also suggested girls tie up long hair to cut their risk, though research has not found lower rates of lice even if they do.- Check children’s hair regularly and treat lice quickly
- Head lice grow and reproduce very quickly, which makes regularly checking important to nip their growth in the bud.
- The only way to check is by using a special fine-toothed detection comb you can buy from a pharmacy.
- You should also check everyone else in the house and treat them the same day if a child has head lice.
- You can buy medicated lotions and sprays that kill lice from a pharmacy, supermarket or online.
- They should die within a day, but some treatments have to be repeated a day later to kill any newly hatched lice.
- Ask pharmacists for other treatments if these don’t work - with NHS advice that you do not need to see a GP.No link with dirty hair
Lice are sometimes assumed to be caused by dirty hair and a failure to wash children properly, but the NHS says it has nothing to do with unwashed hair.
The NHS says these supposed treatments do not work:
- Products containing permethrin
- Head lice “repellents”
- Electric combs for head lice
- Tree and plant oil treatments, such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil herbal remedies.
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