Superdrug issues warning to parents across UK

-Credit: (Image: SCU)
-Credit: (Image: SCU)

Superdrug has issued a warning to parents across the UK as cases of head lice are on the rise. The high-street chemist has reported a 121% spike in sales of its head lice treatment spray.

With summer around the corner and the weather becoming increasingly warmer, mums and dads are urged to check their children's' hair often. Head lice is prevalent around this time of year as warmer weather triggers infestations, Superdrug says.

Head lice is most common among children, but their families can catch it too. The NHS and Niamh McMillan, Superdrug's Pharmacy Superintendent, have shared advice on how to prevent and treat head lice during the summer months.

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What are head lice and how are they caused?

Head lice are often caused by dirty hair. The pesky insects are picked up by head-to-head contact. They live in hair and lay eggs in the hair near to the scalp.

The lice can make your head feel itchy. The only way to be sure someone has head lice is by finding live lice.

What to do if your child has head lice

You should take action against head lice as soon as you notice them. You have can treat head lice without needing to consult a GP.

Ensure that you thoroughly examine all individuals you reside with or have frequent contact with. Promptly initiate treatment for anyone who is found to have head lice. There's no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice.

How to treat head lice

The method known as wet combing is a proven way to clear out head lice from an individual's hair. This involves using a fine-toothed comb to gently sift through wet hair, making sure the move traverses from the roots all the way to the tips. After each stroke, it's vital to clean off the comb and scrutinise for lice.

Alternatively, there are myriad over-the-counter treatments available that specifically target head lice and their eggs. These potions are formulated to kill off the pests within 24 hours, thereby offering immediate relief from infestations.

However, some of these treatments necessitate a second round of use after the completion of one week in order to destroy any lice that may have hatched in the interim period. Make sure to thoroughly peruse the packaging instructions to ascertain its safety for you or your young ones.

If these treatments prove unsuccessful, your next port of call should be seeking advice from the local pharmacist. Their professional guidance can assist in navigating other viable options that you could consider.

Remember, it's not helpful to resort to certain treatments as they hold little promise to effectively combat head lice. These include remedies with permethrin as an active ingredient, so-called lice "repellents", electric combs marketed for lice removal, and various plant-based oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender.

Additionally, herbal remedies, too, have been found lacking in efficacy.

As far as preventive measures are concerned, the NHS maintains that there's no foolproof strategy to ward off head lice encounters. However, regularly engaging in wet combing using a detection comb can aid in nipping a potential spread in the bud.

It is advisable to not employ medicated lotions and sprays as preventive tools against head lice considering they carry the risk of scalp irritation.