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?!