LICE: getting your head right
The mere mention of "lice" sets your scalp itching, but if you have a genuine infestation in your house, here's how to deal with it.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with lice, the first and most important thing to do is accept
that you are confronted with one of the Herculean tasks of parenting. Once you’ve made your peace with that, follow these steps.

#1- Get rid of the lice

This is done by either poisoning them thoroughly – the truly appealing approach – or immobilising them with some kind of goo and then fastidiously combing out every last one of them with a fine-toothed comb. Whichever approach you opt for, be sure to read the package instructions carefully and follow them to the tee.

#2- Get rid of the nits

Nits are lice eggs, and very few products even claim to permeate their shells, so you’ll have to get ready for a round of nitpicking – removing each nit from the base of the hair shaft. You’ll need to get rid of all nits – dead or alive – to get the all-clear for your child to return to school.

So get a big sweet to occupy your child for a bit and have a reward on the ready for good behaviour. Alternatively, if your play school doesn’t demand a certificate, you can opt for an every-five-day cycle of lousekilling over two weeks to try and get rid of all new hatchlings, and chances are you’ll miss a few and need to repeat the process a few times.

But anyone who has tried to pin down and nitpick a furious toddler will tell you that this may be the only option available to you.

#3- Boil the linen

To kill whatever lingering nasties there might be (it only takes one), you should wash all linen on a hot cycle on the washing machine and then tumble for at least 20 minutes, and give all pillows, duvets and frequently cuddled soft toys a thorough sunning or quarantine.

Lice can’t live for longer than 48 hours once off of their hosts, so logically, leaving home or putting the linen and most cuddled toys away for two days should starve the critters to death.

#4- The natural way

It is neither advisable nor desirable to repeatedly poison the scalp of a young child, so it’s worth
considering natural alternatives.

TEA TREE The most common of the alternative shampoos – it involves three different potions and a bit of repetition, but isn’t too harsh on the scalp.

ANISEED By all reports, this is the most effective of the essential oils. Some sites even report a 100 percent kill rate on both nits and lice.

COCONUT OIL Wearing coconut oil and a shower cap overnight claims to suffocate most lice and make it easy to comb out any nits.

Neem is a tree native to South East Asia and India, and has been used for generations to treat lice. Small studies suggest that neem shampoos are effective if left on for 15 minutes.

MAYONNAISE Another way to suffocate the lice, mayonnaise is a home remedy that is purported to work. Rather than dishing out your actual salad cream as conditioner, some pharmacies sell “hair mayonnaise" you can try.

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