Got Lice? Lice is SHIRAMI in Japanese (シラミ). First reaction is ick, yikes, embarrassment, worry. Get over it quick and take action. Lice are very common in Japan, especially on kids in daycare, nursery and elementary. Any kid can get it. We talked to two school nurses and some experienced moms about what to do if your kids have lice. Stop itching and start killin’ those buggers. Just some advice – don’t google lice or you will freak!!! For other first aid and meds you should have in your Japan first aid kit check here.
Got Head Lice? – How to Treat Lice In Japan (シラミ)
Lets start out with what are lice?
Lice are 2-4 mm wingless insects that live on animals, birds, and humans and feed on circulating blood. Lice start as nits which are eggs of adult head lice. A single female louse lays eggs twice a day, and four to five eggs each time. Eggs that take about one week to hatch. Head lice spread when people are in close contact – sharing hats, playing with each other hair or sharing hair brushes. Lice are more common in young kids due to their studying and playing proximities.
How to determine if your child (or you) have head lice?
I know you don’t want to look, but you have to! If your child is itching their hair behind their ears and back of neck check immediately. Note: some kids never itch but may have lice. If your school has lice, I recommend you check every morning before you send your kids to school for nits. If you find one nit or head lice, you need to keep your child home from school until all nits, and head lice are gone 2-3 days usually. Also, call the school nurse and make sure all kids in the same class are checked by the nurse that day. Some kids get lice numerous times in one day due to schools and parents not taking this seriously.
Looking for Lice? Here is what to search for.
1. White nits are egg sacks that have already hatched.
2. Brown-black nits contain live eggs that will hatch within one week.
3. If you have found white nits (hatched), you probably have an active head lice infection. You might not find lice because the buggers move fast and can hide well. Just assume if you have white hatched nits you have live lice.
Do you need to go to the doctor?
No, If this is your child’s 1st lice problem than you can do home treatment. However, if your child has had more than 3 cases of lice in one school year, it is advised to consult a doctor for a more in-depth treatment. Also if your child has scratched open their scalp, has an allergic reaction to the ointment or can’t sleep you should visit a doctor.
How to treat lice at home?
1. Bottom line – you need to comb out every single egg and live louse out of the hair. This can take multiple treatments. The most import thing for treatment is a super fine comb that can get every little bugger out! You can buy easily on Amazon.co.jp. A regular come will not work. A high-quality stainless steel fine tooth comb is a good investment for all families.
2. Buy an anti-lice treatment from your pharmacy or online without a prescription. I do not recommend shampoos. You can not shampoo nits and lice out. You need to use a lice lotion or cream, let it sit for 15-30 mins and then comb out the nits and lice. This will take 1-2 hours depending on the amount of hair. You can not treat yourself well so enlist a partner. Note: some of these treatments are very smelly and can irritate skin. The different active ingredients in these products include permethrin, maldison or pyrethrin. It is recommended that you do another treatment in 5-7 days to be sure that all nits and lice are gone. Note; many treatments do not include a good comb, so we recommend you buy the steel fine tooth comb linked above.
3. Alternative Wet Comb Treatment is also an option if you don’t want to use a special lice shampoo. Wet your child’s hair and then apply a LOT of conditioner, mayonnaise, or olive or coconut oil and rub deep in the scalp (hair has to be dripping with moisture from the ingredients you choose). The ingredient stuns/suffocates the lice and loosens the nits which can then be more easily combed out. It does not kill them. Wrap a shower cap or plastic wrap around your child’s head for 60 mins. Remove the wrap and brush small sections of hair from the scalp to the ends in one firm swipe. You will remove the ingredient, nits, and lice. Wipe the comb residue on a paper towel after each swipe. You should be able to see nits and lice on the paper towel. It is recommended after the first round of combing to comb once more in 1st treatment (comb twice). Wrap up the paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Tie up and dispose of the bag after treatment. Since no chemicals are used, you should complete this treatment every 2-3 days for two weeks to make sure no additional eggs have been laid or hatched. Some people also mix essential oils into the oil (olive or coconut recommend) and wrap overnight. All hair will still need to be nit combed in the morning.
4. Clean your house to prevent further lice. If someone in your family has lice immediately take the following actions.
- Wash all bedding in over 50 degree C water.
- Put pillows, and stuff animals from beds, etc in the dryer to kill.
- Wash all hats, scarves, hair bows, etc.
- Boil all hair brushes and combs.
- Vacuum all sofas and rugs.
- If your child is often in a stroller or car seat wash the pads or don’t use for two days to make sure any lice are dead.
Lice can live off of humans for 24-36 hours. If you cannot wash or dry an item, then place in sealed plastic garbage bags for two days to make sure lice are dead.
How to prevent?
If you child does not have lice, but it is at your school. Or if your child has had but you don’t want again. There are important actions to help prevent.
1. Talk to your child about lice, and ask them to be careful not play with friends’ hair. Don’t share hats, and tell them to let you know if they feel itchy.
2. Talk to the teacher about the classroom, and if there are any outbreaks so you can be more proactive. No names should be asked just ask about cases or not.
3. If your child has long haired braid or tie tight in a bun on top of head. Some people also use hairspray to keep hair secure.
4. Spray and comb hair with essential oils. All of these oils can be used: tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, peppermint, geranium, and thyme. These oils have not been proven to kill nits or lice, but can provide some prevention by repelling with the smell.
Some Head Lice Questions and Answers.
QA1. Does cutting my child’s hair prevent lice? No, even kids with very short hair can get lice.
QA2. Can kids get lice swimming? Data shows that head lice can survive underwater for several hours but are unlikely to be spread by the water in a swimming pool. Head lice have been seen to hold tightly to human hair and not let go when submerged under water. Chlorine levels found in pool water do not kill head lice.
QA3. Can I kill lice with just essential oils? No, Essential oils will not kill nits and lice alone. You must suffocate the lice overnight with oil, conditioner or mayonnaise miseducating with essential oils. However, you still need to comb out nits.
QA4. Are there any lice removal beauty salons in Japan like in NYC and LA? No, sorry we have not found any salons in Japan that specialize in lice removal.
Got Head Lice? – How to Treat Lice In Japan (シラミ)
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