Head lice tips as kids go back to school

Pharmacists have advised parents to check children routinely for head lice every week after they return to school shortly.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has warned parents, however, not to treat their child for head lice as a precaution, as products used to treat it do not prevent the infection from occurring.

"Unfortunately there is no way of preventing head lice, but the earlier the infection is detected, the easier it is to manage. We are advising parents to check their children's heads for head lice and nits (eggs) routinely every week by wet-combing the hair," according to Pharmacist Grainne O'Leary

A common sign that there are head lice present is usually an itchy head, but older children and adults may not experience any itching.

"Products used to treat head lice do not prevent the infection from occurring and children should not be exposed to treatment unless it is necessary. In the long run, screening saves time and distress to children, parents and other family members who will also need to be treated if an infestation occurs", Ms O'Leary said.

Tips on how to treat head lice:

* Only treat hair that is infected - products used to treat head lice do not prevent the infection from occurring and should never be used as a preventative measure.

* Treat immediately - As soon as you discover lice or eggs, treat the child as soon as possible.

* Follow the instructions - always follow the instructions on the treatment pack and any advice given by your pharmacist. Never leave the product in longer or double the dose of the product.

* Repeat the treatment - treatment should be repeated after seven days to kill any eggs that may have hatched in the meantime.

* Check the success - check if the treatment has worked by detection combing on day two or day three after completing a course of treatment, and again after a further seven days. Treatment can be judged successful if no lice are found during both checks.

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