If your child contracts head lice, we would ask you to inform your child’s teacher immediately as it is highly contagious. Incidents of head lice in a given classroom are then reported to those parents affected so that they can take appropriate measures outlined below.
Check your child’s heads any time they scratch or in general about once a fortnight. You often won’t see a louse with your naked eye but the eggs or ‘nits’ are usually visible like tiny white teardrops stuck firmly to the hair shaft – often on deeper hairs at the nape of the neck or above the ears. New eggs mean live lice, and need to be treated as soon as possible.
There are multiple over-the-counter preparations available – all of which involve applying a solution to the head and washing it off. Lice are killed by the treatments, but eggs can survive and later hatch, so they need to be fine combed out. This needs to be done daily, and can be aided by using lots of conditioner to make it easier to get through the hair and get the eggs to slip off.
After seven days you should treat again to catch any newly hatched eggs – then repeat fine combing all over again for another seven days until no lice or eggs remain – which can take about three weeks.
Long hair should be tied back at school as lice can crawl from head to head. Leave-in conditioners with tea tree or citrus do work to repel the lice that apparently don’t like the smell. You can also dilute some tea tree solution in water and dab it behind your child’s ears as a deterrent.
Further information is available on the HSE’s website.