Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty – Head Lice Advice From the Experts

The experts from Nitty Gritty explain how head lice spread, why children are particularly susceptible to them, and how to get rid of them

What are head lice and how do they spread?

Head lice are small, wingless insects with flattened, elongated bodies. A mature adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed. Head lice live on the human scalp and feed on human blood. They are passed from one person to another when two people have direct head-to-head contact. They cannot jump or fly, but they crawl incredibly quickly and only need a few seconds to crawl from one head to another.

What are nits, and how can they and head lice be detected?

Most people refer to all eggs, both live and hatched, as nits, but this is technically incorrect. You have ‘Live’ head louse eggs, which will be found very close to the scalp (within a few millimetres), each egg is glued to an individual hair strand as soon as they are laid, unhatched eggs are brownish in colour so can easily be camouflaged in the hair. Nits are the empty egg cases, which are a white or cream colour, they will remain glued in place on the hair as it grows out after the lice have hatched, so are usually found slightly further away from the scalp. Nits are often the first visible sign of a head lice infestation. We recommend doing weekly sight checks on all young children, paying close attention behind the ears, the temples, the nape of the neck and the crown of the head, as this is where head lice like to lay their eggs.

Do children with head lice have to be kept off school or taken to see a GP?

No, you do not need to keep children off school or take them to see a GP, head lice can be easily dealt with at home with your Nitty Gritty comb. Saying this we do recommend that you let the parents in your child’s class know that you have found and treated head lice on your child, so that they can check and treat their own children to put a stop to it being passed back and forth. The more openly we talk about head lice, the quicker we stop the spread.

If there are head lice in my house, do I need to do a deep clean?

No, it is not necessary to deep clean your house if you have detected head lice. Head lice can only live off the human head for up to 48 hours before dying. Once you have treated everyone in the house we simply recommend putting clean bedding on the bed, clearing any excess hair out of your hair brushes and combs and if you really want to you can isolate any hats or soft toys from the bed in a plastic bag for 48 hours if they can’t be washed. But it is really rare for a head louse to have an opportunity to crawl back on to the head once it has come off, so please do not go crazy cleaning everything, it is not necessary.

What’s the story behind Nitty Gritty?

It all started 25 years ago when we were going through ‘head lice hell’ with our own children.  Our three daughters were constantly coming home from school with head lice, we bought every single over the counter lotion and potion that we could get our hands on… but nothing ever seemed to work. We got sick and tired of our girls ending up in tears from the awful chemical products we were putting on their heads – which more often than not still left them with live head lice and eggs in their hair. It just felt like such an ongoing battle. We knew it was time to rewrite the rules on how to deal with head lice!

The following year we launched our company Nitty Gritty, bringing the first ever natural head lice solution to the UK market. Since then we have had a single mission in mind – to help our customers and their families ‘beat the bugs’ without the need for any nasty chemicals!

nitty grittyWhat is the Nitty Gritty approach to dealing with head lice?
We have created a really simple Check, Treat, Prevent approach to dealing with head lice…

CHECK: Check your child weekly for any signs of live head lice or unhatched eggs, it’s far easier if you can catch them early before the eggs have hatched and the lice have the opportunity to start breeding and laying more eggs. When doing your weekly check pay particular attention to behind the ears, temples, nape of the neck and crown of the head, this is where lice tend to lay their eggs. If you see your child scratching their scalp this is definitely the time to do a quick check, even if you have checked recently. But do keep in mind that not everyone feels itchy when head lice are present, so don’t assume if your child is not itchy there are no head lice present.

TREAT: If you find any sign of live head lice, eggs or nits, you now need to treat the problem by doing a thorough combing. Saturate the hair with our Aromatherapy head lice treatment or regular conditioner (combing dry hair is completely ineffective). If the hair is long enough, divide it into 4 sections and go through one section at a time combing from root to tip with our award-winning Nitty Gritty comb, removing all lice and eggs before moving onto the next section. It is important to thoroughly check (and treat if necessary) the whole family if any member has head lice, otherwise, you will just pass them back and forth.

PREVENT: To minimise your child’s chances of catching head lice make sure you tie their hair up every day for school, and for other social activities where you know they will be having close contact with other children. If their hair is long we recommend tying the hair into tight plaits or a tight bun. We also highly recommend using our Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray, which you simply spritz onto their hair before school. Head Lice use their sense of smell to detect the presence of a potential new host, so by disguising the host’s natural smell head lice will look elsewhere.

Tell us more about the Nitty Gritty comb, what makes it so special?

Unlike any other head lice treatment on the market our innovative micro-spiral comb was specifically designed to not only remove the smallest head lice as well as the nits (the empty egg cases) but also, most importantly, it even removes the unhatched ‘live’ head louse eggs, which is the main cause of repeated infestations.

All the chemical treatments simply target the live lice but leave the ‘live’ eggs behind in the hair to hatch out. That’s why infestations often seem to go on forever and you find yourself having to do treatment after treatment. But unless you get the unhatched live eggs out, you just end up right back where you started a week later when the new generation of head lice hatch out.

But our comb deals with an entire infestation in one go – without any need for nasty chemicals. One comb is all you need for an entire family, and even better news, it will last you a whole lifetime!

How does the Aromatherapy Solution and Defence Spray help?

Our Nitty Gritty comb works brilliantly with any ordinary hair conditioner, but even better when teamed with our 100% natural Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Head Lice Solution. It’s an oil based solution that not only aids the comb to glide effortlessly through even the thickest, curliest hair but it also loosens up the eggs which are glued to the hair strands as well as immobilising any live lice, so that they can’t move around the head whilst you are combing.

Now that you have cleared the infestation, the last thing you want is to send your child in to school only to catch them back again a week later! Our Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray helps keep those pesky lice from crawling back on to your little one’s heads. Head lice feed on the human scalp and just like mosquitoes, head lice use their sense of smell to detect the presence of a ‘new’ host during even the briefest head-to-head contact. Our Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray messes up their ‘radar’ and encourages head lice to stay on their existing host rather than migrate.

So after you have cleared an infestation simply spritz it on your child’s hair every morning before nursery, school or any other occasion where they will come into close contact with other children.

Where can I find out more about Nitty Gritty and head lice?

We have been dealing with head lice for over 25 years, so we have a wealth of knowledge that we share on our website and also on our social media channels @NittyGrittyHeadLice. You can also check out more of our videos like the one below where we answer all your questions about head lice, by heading over to our YouTube channel.

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