Head lice? Don’t panic! Our lice treatment guide will show you how to check for lice, what tools you need (lice comb vs lice shampoo) and how to get rid of these itchy little critters!
Let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty! You’ve received a message from school, “there’s been a case of head lice in your child’s grade.” Before you start thinking that your child doesn’t have lice… they haven’t itched… they’ve just washed their hair…you’ve never had lice, so neither would your child…..think again. Head lice in Singapore is rampant, they love heat and humidity and when you know what to look for it will only take a few minutes to confirm.
How to look for head lice
If you have never dealt with lice before just “looking for lice” means very little. You are probably Googling “What does hair lice look like?,” and the pictures aren’t pretty. Yes, you can look through your child’s hair and search for lice moving about or lice eggs (called nits) stuck on the hair shaft, but to the untrained eye, that is hard to do. The most effective way to check lice and nits is to put conditioner through a section of the hair, run a lice comb through and then wipe the comb on a paper towel. When you do that, the difference will be black and white…literally! The lice will look like bugs and the nits will be tiny oblong yellow or brown specks on the paper towel (the nits often turn white after they have hatched).
Find a lice comb in Singapore
What is a lice comb? There are tons of different ones on the market, but my preference is one with one row of long ridged metal tines. Find a lice comb with:
– one row, so it is easy to clean,
– long tines, so it can easily go through thick, long hair
– ridged, so it helps dislodge the lice eggs on the hair shaft.
Lice vs dandruff?
When lice lay nits, they lay them with glue very close to the scalp of the hair. As the hair grows the egg casings move further from the scalp, they don’t just fall off. That can be an indicator of how long the lice have been on your child. It also means that if you can flick a speck on the hair, that is not lice or nits, it’s a speck of something, perhaps dry scalp flake or dandruff.
It takes the nit approximately 8 days before hatching, then another 8 days for the lice to grow old enough to reproduce at which point it will lay up to 8 eggs a day….oh lucky number 8. Different studies have shown a variety of life cycle length, but they all seem to be around the number 8, so let’s make that the easy way to remember.
How to get rid of head lice: is lice shampoo needed?
Now that we know the lice life cycle, it is a matter of breaking it. You have confirmed your child has lice, what do you do now? Don’t panic, but clear the schedule! If you are wondering if you need to rush out and find a special lice shampoo in Singapore, rest assured you do not! A lice comb is mandatory (good to have on hand before your kid gets lice) and then a simple hair conditioner will do.
Lice Lassies recommends the following: a lice comb, a water spray bottle, hair clips, wide tooth comb, hair conditioner, a bowl with water, paper towel, bin bag, a comfortable seating position for you and your child, and entertainment (maybe an education TV show) for your child. Or if you have older kids you could use this as a good time to chat and bond!
Once everything is set up, partition the hair in three or four horizontal sections, keeping the hair just above the nape of the neck down, and the other sections clipped to the top of the head. Spray the loose section of hair with water and put hair conditioner in from the scalp to the roots. The hair conditioner helps slow the lice down from moving around too fast, and eases the lice comb through the hair. Run the wide-tooth comb through the section and get all of the knots out. Run the lice comb from the scalp to the end of the hair and then wipe the tines on the paper towel to see if anything comes out. Carry on combing the section until the comb comes out clean. Rinse the comb in water when necessary. Move to the next section and repeat. When you have done all of the hair, go through once again to make sure all is coming out clean.
You have to assume you have left a few eggs in the hair, but rather than driving yourself crazy and /or straining your eyes, you will carry on combing on a daily basis, but a much faster version. For the next two weeks, every time your child showers, you shampoo as normal, then condition. With the conditioner still in the hair run the wide-tooth comb through to take out the tangles and then use the lice comb, cleaning the comb in the running water after every swipe down. Depending on the thickness of the hair this can be done in fewer sections and should only take a few minutes. After the first week of the quick combing, it is good to do a thorough comb through so you can have a proper look at how many lice eggs and nits are coming out on a paper towel. If you have a clean comb out, you can reduce the combing to every other time they wash their hair.
What else do you need to do? The day you do the big comb out, you need to wash the bed linens, towels, dirty laundry, hats, brushes, hair ties and soft toys. Anything that can’t be washed on a hot cycle and dried ideally in a dryer, place in a sealed bag for a week. The lack of human contact will kill the lice. Vacuuming of carpets and couches and chairs with upholstery is also necessary, so the lice don’t crawl back to a warm and hairy human.
Yay, your child is lice free! Don’t assume your child’s friends, classmates, bus buddies, condo pals are lice free. I recommend you do lice checks regularly and now that you really know what you are looking for it will be even easier!
Head lice treatment in Singapore
What are the other options to help get rid of lice? Lice Lassies is a service that comes to your house, does lice checks on the household and does the combing on the confirmed cases. They leave the lice kit with all the tools needed to keep the lice out of the hair and house. If you have the time but need the kit, they sell a lice kit including the lice comb with long tines and ridges.
Lice shampoo in Singapore
Watsons and Guardian sell only one product that helps with lice. It is melathion lotion –a lice shampoo treatment that kills lice and eggs. You have to make sure to apply it thoroughly and be prepared to leave the lotion in the hair for 12 hours. The lice shampoo has a pungent smell and does have chemicals that are not suitable for pregnant women. I recommend regular combing with a lice comb even if you use this particular lice shampoo, because if even a couple of eggs are stable enough to hatch you will be dealing with lice again in a couple of weeks.
Natural lice shampoo treatments
Mayonnaise, Listerine, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Kerosene are all substances that come up with helping get rid of lice, but they are messy, smelly and/or expensive. Cheap conditioner, which is meant to go on the hair does the trick along with a good lice comb.
Keeping lice away
Even though lice can only crawl, (they don’t jump or fly) they can hold a steady grip on the hair shaft with the specially designed claws and move at a fast pace. They very quickly go from head to head with close contact but can also hang out in shared hairbrushes, hats, tops and of course sleepovers are their favorite! Encourage your kids not to share clothing and brushes and do a quick comb through after sleepovers.
If you have been itching while reading this, that is totally normal with the psychosomatic aspect to lice, but to really know if you have got the bugs you have to run the comb through!
1# and 3# images via Getty Images, Lice comb via Lice Lassies, 4th image Pexels, Typhaine headshot image via Sandy Lo Photography