Head lice and nits reach 'epidemic' levels among Irish schoolchildren, warns treatment centre
Head lice and nits have reached "epidemic" levels among Irish schoolchildren because parents don't know how to get rid of them effectively, the owner of head lice treatment centres has said.
Andrew Hennessy from the Head Lice Experts says parents are not educated about how to fully eradicate head lice and nits.
"The reason it has reached epidemic levels is because people are too busy to solve the problem. The burden usually and unfortunately falls on the mum, and it involves mums sitting down for two or three hours because often there is homework and meals in the middle of it so it's an ordeal."
"The reason people come to us is they're at the end of the ropes and don't know what to do."
"Nine out of ten children who sit in our chair will have between 30 and 60 live crawlers in their hair."
"When we do a school check, an average of 20-25pc of children have an infestation of some type."
Hennessy believes the only way to completely eradicate head lice and nits is by combing them out of the child's head and hair.
"Combing twice over a space of 7-10 days, once you're forensic about it, will deal with it or prevent the problem from occurring."
"Education is the problem. Understanding the lifecycle and how and why they breed and exist is the key. We extract the louse out by combing, but you have to check again after a few days. If you understand how the life cycle works then you can go and check again."
"At the moment, [some products] are using the phrase 'the cure', and selling the idea of a miracle in a bottle. But it all boils back to combing. The combing is absolutely key, and you won't get rid of the problem without combing."
Hennessy says there are a few myths about how head lice and nits spread.
"They don't jump, fly or hop. They move only through direct contact. They move 23 centimetres a minute.
He added: "They don't like testosterone. They're not afraid of it but they don't like it. When they bite into the older brother who's post-puberty or dad, they'll walk away."
But he said: "If one of them falls onto mum while she's combing, they could be heading onto mum's head."