Stop Scratching

Stop Scratching!

Families on a baudget cannot afford tio buy treatment after treatment for headlice, they need to get something that works straight away. The less toxic the better. Will our guest post from Alison leave you scratching?

How peculiar a feature is it of the human psyche that one of our smallest and least lethal enemies arouses the most extreme reaction? Just the word ‘nit’ has the power to tip a rational adult head first into a squirming, scratching maelstrom of paranoia.

Well maybe they have reason. Head lice will, if given the slightest encouragement, establish colonies on human heads, feasting at regular intervals on the ocean of blood available to them by mining into the tender scalp at their feet.

Head to Head with lice

Head lice have no wings and cannot jump, swim or fly – they rely on crawling from head to head, so you can only ‘catch’ them by getting up close and personal with an infested head.

Not only are the invading hordes hungry, they’re also hardy. The effectiveness of current synthetic treatments is declining as lice become more resistant to them. [1] This is because synthetic treatments have a single mode of action on head lice, so a simple genetic change in the lice can make them resistant to the treatment. [2] Unfortunately synthetics treatments may end up having more unpleasant effects on the human host than the parasite, with some of the chemicals used in these products now considered to present medical risks. [3]

Many parents are therefore turning to less toxic methods, hitting the nits with Neem head lice treatment.

Scientists first had their attention drawn to the powers of Neem when they witnessed a plague of locusts in India, and realised that the only trees left untouched by the winged ravagers were the Neem trees. Insects avoid this tree, the leaves and seeds of which are capable of doing great damage to insect life generally whilst, rather pleasingly, having no adverse effects on mammals, ladybirds or bees.

No resistance has ever been seen to Neem, despite years of use on 300 types of pests throughout the world. This may be because Neem affects the louse’s feeding mechanism so that it can’t take blood meals. [4] Being unable to take blood meals effectively means it can’t feed, and thus it can’t grow or breed, and soon dies. Lice can’t develop any defences against this multifactorial onslaught, which will meanwhile harm the human head not one jot.

However much you may dislike the fact, head lice infestation is an inevitable feature of a normal, active childhood, just like a snotty nose. Keep a cap on it with these strategies.

  • ·         Check regularly for infestation, especially after sleepovers or parties, or any hat-sharing events! The eggs are whitish and tend to be clustered in the nape of the neck, on the crown of the head, and behind the ears
  • ·         Don’t let children share hair brushes
  • ·         Don’t panic over what may turn out to be dandruff or debris – if you can flick it off then it’s not nits
  • ·         In case of an infestation, treat the whole family and repeat the treatment a week later to catch larvae that have hatched since the first time treatment

[1] Pray WS. US Pharm 2010; 35 (3): 10-15

[2] Burgess IF. Annu Rev Entomol 2004; 49: 457-481

[3] Med Lett Drugs Ther 1999; 41: 73-74

[4] Trumm, P. and Dorn, A. Phytoparasitica 2000; 28: 7-26

 

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