Head lice remedy should be repeated


COLOGNE, Germany — A treatment for head lice should always be repeated eight to 10 days after the initial attempt to get rid of the parasite, said Ulrich Fegeler of Germany’s professional association of pediatricians in Cologne. If a second treatment is not carried out, the lice are likely to return because the first treatment typically does not kill all the eggs and larvae, and these can continue the spread of lice, Fegeler said. “The first sign of a head lice infection are pustules behind the ears that appear as a reaction to the lice’s saliva,” said Fegeler. Eczema then develops on the back of the neck and the area begins to itch. Proof that the parasites are present are their eggs, called nits, usually found near the hair root. They look like dandruff, but do not easily release from the hair shaft. Head lice should be treated immediately. The available chemical treatments damage the nervous system of the parasite, while others, such as ones based on coconut oil block their respiratory passages. To loosen the firmly attached nits, the association recommends rinsing the head with a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water, then waiting 10 minutes before combing through the hair thoroughly with a special nit comb.

Since July, Germans have been able to order through their doctor certain insecticide-free head lice agents free of charge.

In Germany an estimated 1 million people, mostly children who are in close contact with other children, suffer a head lice infestation annually. The number of cases peak late in the summer and in early autumn.

“Parents are required to inform the kindergarten or school if their child is affected,” said Fegeler. Children who have head lice are allowed to return to kindergarten or school one day after beginning the treatment.