WARNING: This article may cause spontaneous head itching

Nothing ruins a parent’s day more than catching sight of child scratching their head. It’s a sign that any plans may need to be put on hold while you dedicate hours of your day to eradicating nits. And that’s exactly what happened when Jana Pittman found a head lice infestation in her home on Thursday morning.

Sharing a pretty creepy video (above) the mum-of-six took to Instagram to share the “reality of parenthood… ” as she de-loused daughters 6yo Emily and 5yo Jemima.

Jana de-nits Emily and Jemima on Thursday morning.

Ex-Olympian, Jana, who is also a mum to 15yo Cornelis, 18mo Charlie and 3mo boy-girl twins, Quinlan and Willow, tends to look on the bright side of life, and even a good dose of lice in the house didn’t stop her.

“Today had my first coffee alone since the twins… why because the chemist hadn’t opened yet to buy lice/nit shampoo 🤭🥴”

The SAS Australia contestant also shared a “great tip from 2 friends”, which was to “use a hair straightener first, then the treatment!”

Jana also said that one daughter was horrified while the other loved collecting the nits as pets!

What are head lice?

It may be hard to believe but head lice have been around thousands of years before your child went to preschool. These small blood-sucking insects, that average around 2 to 4 mm, can cause parents of small children a great deal of grief, but if you know what to look for and how to treat them it can be a mild hurdle that hopefully doesn’t have to be crossed too often.

Head lice vary in colour, from whitish-brown to reddish-brown, and surprisingly only survive on humans. Despite the common misconception that head lice can fly, they are actually wingless insects and do not even have the capacity to jump from head to head. The transmission of head lice can only be made by head-to-head contact as they can only crawl.

Lice actually like to live on the hair itself and only migrate to the scalp to feed so many head lice do not cause an itch, which means that it takes careful inspection to find them. Louse eggs are laid just over a centimetre from the scalp and are about the size of a pin head and are oval in shape.

A live egg will actually making a popping noise when squashed by fingernails and hatched eggs look like empty shells. The eggs – or nits – hatch in 7-10 days, and one female louse can lay 150-300 eggs so it doesn’t take long for a few random lice to become a couple of hundred.

One of Jana’s daughters planned on keeping the nits as pets. NOOOOOO!

How to find the little suckers

Before you run for the clippers and inflict a lifetime of therapy on your child, remember that anyone with even a short length of hair can get head lice. The first step in any parent’s war against head lice is detection.

STEP 1: Starting with dry hair gently comb through any conditioner, detangling any knots so you can get a smooth stroke from root to tip. This technique with the conditioner actually stuns the lice and makes it hard for them to grip onto the hair.

STEP 2: Using a small tooth comb, brush sections of the hair gently from the roots to the ends.

STEP 3: Wipe the conditioner from the comb onto a paper towel or tissue.

STEP 4: Look on the tissue and on the comb for lice and eggs.

STEP 5: Repeat combing at least four or five times for every section of the head and if lice or eggs are found, the hair should be treated.

Surprisingly, head live only survive on humans.

How to treat head lice at home

The treatment of head lice involves removing the lice from the head because once extracted they die very quickly, usually within 24 hours. The main treatment options are chemical, herbal and manual, but if none of these are ideal you may need to use a combination of all three.

CHEMICAL TREATMENTS

Most shampoos and lotions found in chemists and supermarkets are actually chemical based treatments, unless otherwise stated. While this method may sound heavy duty and scary NSW Health Department authorities say they’re okay – as long as you don’t use them more than once a week and don’t use them on kids under two.

HERBAL TREATMENTS

These usually contain ingredients such as tea tree and lavender oil, and many parents claim success with them. Just be aware that tea tree oil can cause skin reactions in some people. It’s important to note that these lice are tricky little pests and no treatment kills all of the eggs so any chemical or herbal method must involve two applications around seven days apart. The first treatment kills all living lice and the second round is to kill the lice that have hatched after the first treatment.

CONDITIONER AND COMBING TECHNIQUES

Using the conditioner and head lice comb method every second day until there have been no live lice found for 10 days. We know – the fun just never stops, does it?

Testing resistance

Insecticide resistance is common in head lice treatment so it is important to test if lice are dead. If the treatment is successful hatched lice will be lifeless within 20 minutes and you should treat again in seven days using the same product.

However, if the lice are not dead that indicates the lice are resistant to the products active compound and it will be ineffective treating this outbreak.

Treat the hair again as soon as possible using a product that contains a different active compound.

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