Thousands suffering from head lice

BUST those bugs!That is the message to parents across Suffolk today after it emerged thousands of children could be suffering with head lice.

BUST those bugs!

That is the message to parents across Suffolk today after it emerged thousands of children could be suffering with head lice.

About 20 per cent of primary school are thought to have nits, causing itching and irritation, and spreading easily.

Today Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) urged parents to check youngsters' hair regularly for the bugs, and reminded them they can self-treat the problem, rather than visiting their GPs.

Caroline Ratcliff, project manager at the PCT, said: “It affects thousands of children in Suffolk.

“It is more of a problem for children but it can pass to their relatives too, maybe grandma can get it when she hugs her children.

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“Most people get head lice infections from family and friends who are not aware that they've got lice.

“We'd therefore advise people to check their hair and their children's hair regularly - especially as head lice often don't cause any symptoms.

“But they can be difficult to find just by looking in the hair alone. We'd encourage parents instead to use a fine toothed detection comb every week to thoroughly check their children's hair.”

Earlier this year all reception class children were given nit combs to combat the bugs and the PCT hopes to repeat the scheme in September if the money is available.

Have you suffered because of head lice? What do you think is the best way of getting rid of the bugs? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Head lice

Head lice are tiny grey-brown, wingless insects, which live by sucking blood from scalps.

Their eggs are known as nits and they are laid glued to the base of hairs, and look like tiny white specks.

The eggs hatch after seven to ten days, and ten to 14 days after hatching the lice are mature and between 2mm and 4mm long (the size of a sesame seed).

Once mature they start to reproduce, so numbers can grow alarmingly if not treated.

Head lice affect only humans, and cannot be passed on to, or caught from animals.

They cannot jump, fly or swim, but walk from one hair to another.

Head lice can be found in all hair types, long or short, and in hair of any condition.

Infestations can be treated by using a wet comb with conditioner or medicated lotions.

SOURCE: NHS Health encyclopaedia