How To Outwit The Nit Epidemic

How To Outwit The Nit Epidemic
4 June 2016

I've got to warn you that your head is likely to be itching like mad by the time you've read this. Sorry.

But according to The Sun, Britain looks to be beset by a nationwide nit epidemic.

The paper reports:

"BRITAIN is facing a major nit epidemic with experts blaming the damp, warm weather - and the country's head lice are more resilient than ever to conventional treatments. A study by Southern Illinois University found that creepy crawlies have developed a way to protect themselves against permethrin - the ingredient found in most over-the-counter head louse treatments that kill the mites. Researchers found as well as the mild weather, centrally-heated, draught-free homes have created an explosion of head lice infestations across the UK."

Urgh. If there's one thing I hate the thought of dealing with, it's nits and headlice. Which is nothing short of ridiculous really since there's nothing 'urgh' about nits or headlice. They like clean hair, we're forever being told, but de-lousing my kids is still a job I'd rather not have to do. Still, that's what mums are for, eh.

Nits and headlice can be incredibly difficult to treat due to a high re-infestation rate and their infuriating resistance to traditional insecticides but don't despair - here's the lowdown on how to prevent head lice and what to do if the little blighters invade anyway.

1.Do a weekly nit check
When it comes to preventing and treating nits and head lice, there's really no substitute for checking your child's hair - ideally on a weekly basis - and removing the lice and eggs by hand. The thing about the super-robust lice is that many head lice treatments just aren't effective against the eggs as well as the lice, so a manual nit check to remove both is your best bet.

It's a time-consuming and painstaking process so I recommend settling your little one in front of their favourite movie before you start. You can click here for NHS guidelines on how to wet comb your child's hair to treat and prevent nits and head lice but it basically involves combing through freshly-washed hair that's been smothered in conditioner, and removing lice and their eggs from each hair shaft one by one. It needs to be done thoroughly and regularly to prevent reinfestation because any egg-cases left behind can hatch a week or two later, so do this weekly, and you should keep head lice at bay. Shaving your child's head may seem preferable, but I've actually had some beautiful bonding moments with my kids whilst scouring their scalps for lice. Honest.

2. Invest in a nit comb
For the weekly nit check you'll need a decent nit comb, and the Nitty Gritty Comb* seems to be the nit comb item that most parents sing the praises of. You can buy it here for £8.99.

3. Try a nit-repellant shampoo
Boots* sells this Vosene Kids 3 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo for £2.49 which some people swear by. I certainly used it for a good while when my lads were younger but that's not a promise that it works. Heck, I think I just liked that it made me feel like I was doing something proactive and preventative in the war against head lice.

4. Use leave-in conditioner
I'm a fan of Vosene's Advanced Conditioning Defence Spray Head Lice Repellant which you can order from Amazon* for £2.54. Again, I can't swear that it truly repels lice but it contains natural ingredients including citronella oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, rosemary leaf oil and lemongrass leaf oil. I remember being told as a child that having well-conditioned hair would make it hard for lice to cling on which may be a myth but again if sending your child to school smelling like an aromatherapy counter makes you feel strong in the face of a possible nit epidemic, I say try it.

5. Try an electronic nit comb
A fancy electronic nit comb can help take some of the legwork (handwork?) out of the weekly nit check. This electronic nit comb from Boots* is £19.99 and I'm guessing it detects the lice and then zaps them.

6. Try a silicone-based treatment containing dimethicone as head lice treatments generally kill lice but not their eggs (nits) so reinfestation can occur which is why option 1 is still your best bet. But if you do try a treatment, go for Hedrin Once which can buy online from Superdruge for £11.49.

Above all, keep in mind that it's NOT true that your child's head will itch if he or she has nits - so don't rely on an itchy scalp to tell you that it's time to get the nit comb out.

We'd love to hear your own recommendations for dealing with nits and head lice. What works, and what doesn't? And do you wish schools would bring back the Nit Nurse like when we were kids?!

TOPICS:   Parents

55 comments

  • Keri H.

    I use Hedrin preventative conditioning spray. Just spray on wet hair after bath twice a week and it stops an infestation taking hold. My daughter is in year 1 and no nits yet!

  • Natalie C.

    I'm waiting for the comments from "perfect parents of perfect children" who literally repel headlice from their scalps to an alternate dimension... :joy::joy::joy:

    • Nicki M.

      What's perfect about parents that actually do something about it. Clearly you don't with a comment like that. Just because some parents are straight on it doesn't make them perfect parents as you sarcastically put it. It's what all parents should be doing and the problem wouldn't be so big.

    • Natalie C.

      Oh dear, was just having a giggle, hence the overtly hyperbolic and sarcastic comment. I'm lucky that my son has only had it a few times and I highly recommend the Nitty Gritty comb in accordance with Hedrin. ;-) But there you go. :-)

    • Nicki M.

      I highly recommend the nitty gritty comb but that alone can do it. Never used nit shampoo on my kids and been clear within a week. It's not that hard to do. Makes me laugh when parents claim they can't do it. It's all about taking the time and effort.

    • Karen D.

      I only use a nitty gritty, but last time it took 6 goes... natural is best

  • Jennifer C.

    Tea tree oil added to baby shampoo seems to work for our family.

  • Candy M.

    We use Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner. We were told by friends that they don't like tea tree and touch wood it's working for us so far. It's also our schools policy that long hair must be tied up.

    • Nicki M.

      Wish all schools would have that policy.

    • Donna W.

      Our school has that policy, sadly not everyone listens....

  • Leanne M.

    Nitty gritty comb! No need to spend lots of money on lotions. I bought this comb and it was money well spent!

  • Angie G.

    We use faith in nature neem and propolis, I still check her hair but since we've started using she's not had one! ...worth a try

  • Angela S.

    , , , , , , ...prepare yourselves ladies, the first case of the year has hit the kids class last week! :confounded:

    • Rachel Y.

      I'm scratching jus reading that :confounded::tired_face::weary::flushed:

    • Susan D.

      I had to get my hair cut....got them in 4th year

    • Christina S.

      Don't talk I'm dreading it been scratching since she told me on Friday :persevere::see_no_evil: I'm going to get the boys hair shaved off to stop the problem :joy: either that or chicken pox there's no getting away from it mine are greedy and take everything going :grin:

    • Angela S.

      Chicken pox I can handle but the lice...ewwww, please no! :fearful:

  • Steph O.

    I use tea tree shampoo as well in an effort to keep the little critters away, but I also do have a nitty gritty comb at the ready, should I need it :)

  • Fi C.

    Luckily my kids have never had them but I get them all the time. Tea tree oil is good. I dilute with water and sprinkle liberally on my hair. I don't use shampoo or conditioner and have not for nearly 2 years now. This really works for me.

  • Emma K.

    Everytime I see the headlice notice on the board outside my daughters classroom the fear sets in!! Having a daughter with quite long, thick mixed race hair I am not sure what I would do if ever they got in there apart from shaving it all off!!! I live in hope that considering I can barely get through her hair half the time that they wouldn't be able to properly get in there either lol

    • Hayley L.

      My daughter who is the same as your little girl caught them but had only about 8 as they didn't like her hair products. If you use hair products for your little girl then hopefully you wont have a bad case. If she does ever get them I recommend the nitty gritty comb wet hair with conditioner then wash out. I now go through my daughters hair with the comb when im washing her hair as i dont want her getting them again even if it was just a few lol xx

  • Kathryn B.

    I heard that hairspray repels them & the cheaper the better. It's worked so far.... (Touch wood!)

    • Donna W.

      Probably luck rather than the hairspray. I use hairspray every day and the 2 times my daughter has had them so have I :-(

  • Michelle S.

    Using the hair dryer I heard also helps ,as it dehydrates the critters !

  • Karen G.

    My daughter was horribly prone, use that Vosene 3 in 1 now for years, works a treat for her and her brother's never had them. Might make them use it till they're 30! :joy:

  • Cass C.

    Superdrug do a kids shampoo/conditioner with tea tree and lemon :)

  • Siobhan M.

    My daughter has them just now and it is the bane of my existence. I have tried so many stuff and they all kill the lice but not the eggs so in a week or so the eggs have hatched and they are back. Just bought a new comb called nitty gritty from eBay. It has spirals groves into the prongs and grab the eggs better. Just tried it tonight and it's amazing. Really takes the eggs out. Would highly recommend

    • Nicki M.

      Don't use anything shampoo wise for nits. Night and Day comb through. Within a week should be clear. Do for 2 weeks to be sure.

    • Sanna G.

      Nitty gritty is really good for getting the eggs

    • Tina A.

      You tried leave in conditioner that's meant to be good for getting ride of the eggs my sis used to get them all the time X

    • Tina A.

      My sis had that problem for years there a bugger to get rid of in end her mam ended up pulling them out with her nails to get rid X

  • Lindsey R.

    Also hedrin is available for free as part of the minor ailment scheme at the pharmacy so there really is no excuse not to treat them.

    • Sarah G.

      Minor ailment scheme isn't available in all areas though, it's not in Oxford, as I've asked in lots of pharmacies near me:( I wouldn't 'not' treat however but to assume the free minor ailment scheme is widely available is a bit silly. I also know of loads of parents who are always treating, yet it takes only one parent to not treat for them to keep spreading. Bring back the nit nurse I say.....

    • Lindsey R.

      Still no excuse. It's neglect to just leave them.

    • Poppy G.

      With asthma and allergies lotions really rnt an option...nitty gritty comb with t.tree conditioner wrkd and now tree oil in water sprayed on daily..

  • Vicky B.

    Dreading this!! Xx

  • Jaques A.

    Nits have a 3 day cycle so you have to Combe every 3 days for two weeks. Also use pure coco nut oil and a nitty gritty comb. I have 4 daughters with hair out their bottoms and my hair is the same only thing hat works xx

  • Amanda B.

    Nitty Gritty, lots of standard conditioner. Comb every couple of days. Best thing ever, so much cheaper and better than all the chemical stuff. It also removes the eggs.

  • Tara F.

    I hope our girls don't get this infestation at their school. I'm going to invest in some nit repellent stay in conditioner x

  • Emma B.

    Just thinking about this makes my head itch we use tea tree shampoo and I spray there hair everyday with tea tree touch wood we've never had them

  • Helen M.

    I use the bug buster kit. http://www.chc.org/ :blush:

  • Paula C.

    Haha it made me laugh when I seen this after you saying are there nits still about :joy::joy:xx

  • Louise G.

    I used the tea tree shampoo ,conditioner and leave in repellent spray everyday since starting nursery and she still got nits! I check their heads once a month and always always have their hair tied back tightly!

  • Poppy G.

    Tea tree oil in water in a sprray bottle on gracies hair after brushed and put up in plaits/pony tail everyday has kept them at bay aftr arghhhh she got them..but being madam happilly announced it to everyone x

  • Nola T.

    I put some tea tree oil in my kids shampoo. It works by repelling them. It's worked well so far:grinning:

  • Sarah P.

    I use to use something called quasi chips from Culpeppers xx

  • Shelley R.

    We've had the lice letter from school again. This is like the 4th time, and my daughter is only 3 :persevere: Luckily we've not actually caught them yet. She's got thin, wispy hair like candy floss and they don't seem to like it. Lucky since she hates a ponytail! I use the lice repel shampoo and i check quickly every other bath time just in case, but i dread the day she has them because I'll have them, and i've got ridiculously thick hair which is a pain to check. I remember lice being the bane of my existence when i was a teen. It was awful :persevere:

  • Vikkil243

    Always remember when I got them as a kid my mum put vinegar on my hair all day  wouldn't if been ti bad but she took me out shopping all day! I stunk!  Worked tho

  • Jennifer S.

    Tea tree shampoo and conditioner. Also Avon skin so soft original dry oil, rub it around the nape of the neck. Also repeals ticks, flees midges and mosquitos.

  • Carla P.

    We have that comb (amazing!) And used the shampoo (didn't stop them arriving in our kids) but I used the conditioner on mildly damp hair & kept combing until no more bugs were coming out (took about half hour in my boy & about an hour in my girl). Didn't rinse out the conditioner until the next day... repeat process for a week. Worked a treat.

  • Samantha E.

    Hair spray on your child's hair before going to school. I only spray a bit on my daughter's hair . this seams to really help .

  • Ann P.

    Get the nitty gritty defence spray works wonders ! ! One spray in the morning keeps the little bugs away !

  • Cathy N.

    There is NO solution to avoid getting the little darlings. I have worked in a school for over 15 years and have tried EVERYTHING. And I still manage to get them. So did my two children. The only thing you can do is a nightly check with a nit comb and conditioner. It's time consuming but it's worth it. In the case of a bad case I have used an overnight lotion to kill the nits and eggs. To help you can make sure girls have hair tied back and keep boys hair short. Easier to spot them in short hair.

  • Nicola G.

    Please don't waste your money on so called repellents... They simply don't work! I have 3 long haired girls and they've caught nits while hair tied up, using "repellent" and tea tree shampoo and conditioner. The only thing in your arsenal that really works is weekly checking, in bright natural light, before they have a chance to breed. If you are using vosene etc and kids not had nits, you're simply lucky! Xx

  • Tara M.

    Luckily the eldest has straw like hair so I don't think they like him, I'm dreading my youngest starting full time in September as he has my type of hair and I always had them when I was little :-( I itch at the thought of them!

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