Nits: Parents share their best hacks for treating headlice in TikTok videos - plus signs your child has lice

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Head lice and nits are particularly common in young children and their families

Children are settling into their new academic year, and any parent or carer will know that attending school brings about various challenges for pupils, from trying to avoid detention to feeling anxious about the possibility of bullying. Unfortunately, these are things that have caused issues at schools for decades.

Another issue that always arises is headlice. As school is the place where pupils spend most of their time Monday to Friday, education settings have become breeding grounds for nits and lice. The NHS has just revealed that the number of parents looking for help tackling head lice has risen sharply since children went back to school for the 2023/2024 academic year.

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It’s news that will come as no surprise to any parent or carer, but what they do want to know is how to effectively treat headlice. Thankfully, some parents who have already had to deal with the nit problem have shared some helpful videos which show not only how to tell if your child has them, but also some handy hacks for how to get rid of them quickly. Keep reading to find out all you need to know.

What are headlice and nits?

Head lice and nits are particularly common in young children and their families. Headlice are small insects, up to 3mm long, which live exclusively in human hair, particularly near the scalp. Headlice lay eggs in the hair called nits, which are brown at first and then turn white when they are empty after the headlice has hatched. 

There’s no way to prevent headlice, according to the NHS, but if your child has them then there is no need to keep them off school.

Parents share their best hacks for treating headlice and nits on TikTok. Image by Adobe Photos.Parents share their best hacks for treating headlice and nits on TikTok. Image by Adobe Photos.
Parents share their best hacks for treating headlice and nits on TikTok. Image by Adobe Photos. | New Africa - stock.adobe.com

How are headlice spread?

Headlice are spread by head-to-head contact between people. There is a common myth that headlice prefer to live in unclean hair, but this has been busted by trichologist and mum Maliha Ihenacho.

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How can I tell if my child has headlice or nits?

The only way to be sure someone has head lice is by finding live lice, say the NHS, but there are some other indicators you can look out for.  According to a TikTok user called RGVLiceLady, who shares various videos all about lice and nits to her 101,900 followers, there are three ways you can tell if your child has lice.

They are:

  • Itching on the scalp - especially while sleeping

  • Nits attached to your hair strands

  • Sores on the scalp and/or nape of the neck

How can I treat headlice or nits?

Parents have also taken to TikTok to share their best hacks for spotting and treating headlice and nits.

In another video, Ihenacho shared her tried and tested method for treating headlice when her own young son comes home from school with them. This includes using a metal comb to remove the lice every day for ten days and using suffocating agents such as olive oil, soya oil, sunflower oil and mayonnaise to kill the lice. She said: “Studies have shown (these agents) are able to kill a significant number of lice, only if they are applied in liberal quantities for more than 12 hours.”

She added that she also used acidic shampoos and conditioners to kill the lice and advised viewers to follow her routine, and then repeat the process if they have not eradicated the nit problem in ten days.

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Another mum called Renee Sarah, who said she is “so sick and tired” of methodically going through her daughter’s hair picking out nits said she had an ingenious hack to spot them quickly. 

Her video is captioned: “Its part of childhood but it doesn't mean I am over them coming back. We spend hours going through her hair to really ensure she is nit free.

We’ve tried the shampoos, nit combs . . . That all works for a bit but they come back again. This hack saves me sooo much time.”

What is the hack? Using a hairdryer to blow the hair out of the way to expose the scalp. In doing this, she said that lice and nits can be spotted easier and quicker. Her video caption continued: “Rather than searching section by section, the hair dryer moves the roots around meaning those suckers can't run and hide.” 

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In the video itself, she described the technique as “an absolute game changer”. Proving just how effective the hack is for her, she added: “I found six or seven nits within the space of two minutes” and encouraged other parents and carers to try it with their children.

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