By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute
Head lice can become a plague in many schools and kindergartens. It is very difficult to find the lice while the nits are easier to find. The nits look like dandruff but stick so hard to the hair that you cannot pull them off like you can with dandruff. Only children who have lice should be treated. There are many different remedies against lice but the head lice are getting more and more resistant. A fine-toothed comb is an effective alternative.
A plague of lice in a school or kindergarten occurs especially after a longer holiday like the summer or winter holiday. This means that most children are bothered by lice from August to October and in January.
Especially children between 3 and 11 years old are exposed to being infected with head lice. With smaller children lice are equally common with boys and girls. When the children grow older the lice are more common with girls. Many believe that lice are seen in connection with dirty hair – this is incorrect. Frequent hair wash will not prevent lice either.
The louse is a bug that feeds off human blood from the scalp. The head louse is 2 to 4 millimetres long and greyish. The head louse lives down right by the scalp where the temperature and moisture sustains it. It moves quickly through the hair and can therefore be difficult to spot.
It is easier to find nits – they look like dandruff or fine powder. The nits stick so hard to the hair that they are difficult to remove. You can easily distinguish nits from dandruff by pulling a hair between your thumb and index finger. The nits stick to the hair while the dandruff slides off. You check for lice by dividing the hair into partings every 2 centimetres and checking the entire scalp this way. Lice and nits are frequently found in the back of the head and behind the ears.
When you have had lice for some time the scalp begins itching. Bites from the lice itch and sometimes cause red spots near the bite. If the child scratches the bites, small rips may arise that bacteria can access and thereby infect the scalp. Such an infection can be identified by redness, warmth, swelling and soreness in the scalp.