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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 222

Date:- 10 October 2005

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“Ask Your Pharmacist”
This Weeks Column by Kay Edwards of Alliance Pharmacy Pharmacist in Bebington

Q. "MY kids have just started back to school and there is a breakout of head lice. What is the most effective way to treat them and make sure they don’t return in two weeks time?"

A. It’s that time of year again and the start of term brings plenty of head lice outbreaks. Any types of hair, short clean or dirty, can be affected, as can any age group, but they are more common in children between the ages of 4 to 11 years. Once head lice have been detected there are two recognised methods you could use to treat them.

1. The first is with two applications of an insecticide, malathion, permethrin or phenothrin, used seven days apart. The second application is to kill any new hatching from eggs that have survived the first treatment. No one insecticide is proven to be more effective than another but you may be swayed in your choice by the form in which they are available, for example, lotion, liquid, mousse or crème rinse. Alcohol based lotions are thought to be slightly stronger but should be avoided in children with asthma or skin problems. Crème rinse and mousse can be left on the hair for a shorter period of time and tend to have less smell and are preferable for older children. Your local pharmacist can help you chose the most appropriate preparation and also inform you of any agreed preference of treatment by the Health Authority in your area.

The success of the treatment can be checked by detection combing two to three days after the final application. If this treatment fails, or there is another outbreak, a course of a different insecticide should be used to reduce the risk of resistance.

2. The second method is wet combing. Washed and conditioned hair is combed through using a detection comb every four days for at least two weeks and any lice and eggs removed. This is a very meticulous and time-consuming process and is considered successful when at least three consecutive sessions uncover no evidence of lice.

Perhaps the most effective solution is to use a combination of these two methods and a lot of perseverance.  

To prevent reoccurrences of head lice, family and friends who have had close head to

...continued... head contact with the child affected should be checked.   Only if actual signs of lice are found, should an insecticide be used, as this is not a recommended preventive measure. There are few options available to prevent future infestations. Several products are available which claim to repel lice, however wet combing the hair using a tea-tree oil conditioner every few weeks may be the best option.

Q. "I don’t want my family to fall ill with the usual winter bugs. Is there a multivitamin that I can give them all or what would you recommend to fight off colds and flu?"

A.  Most winter bugs are viral infections of which there are no cures or preventative treatments available. Our best defence is our own immune system, which can be aided by a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of sleep. This may not always be possible with children who can be picky eaters. In this case, a basic children’s one-a-day multivitamin can be helpful. Similarly adults with dietary deficiencies may benefit from a multivitamin in the run up to the winter months as vitamins are not instantly absorbed into our system. It has been claimed that Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea may reduce the severity and length of cold symptoms but no findings have been conclusive.

If you are unfortunate enough to become bogged down with a cold your local pharmacist will be able to advise you on ways to help relieve the symptoms.

Q.  "I’ve read a lot about the importance of looking after your heart. How do I know if I need to do anything and if so, what?"

A You are right, it is important to look after your heart. The easiest way for you to find out if you have any cause for concern would be to call into a local pharmacy that offers blood pressure and cholesterol testing, and avail of their services. Here at Alliance Pharmacy we offer a Health Heart Assessment; we check your cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight as well as looking at your lifestyle and family history. The pharmacist can then advise if you need to see your GP or talk you through some of the simple diet and lifestyle steps you can take to help keep your heart healthy.

To find your local Alliance Pharmacy please visit:- 

Email your questions to:-

We would like to thank all you who have entered these questions.   Keep them coming in.   All information will be passed direct to Alliance Pharmacy Pharmacist.   All email addresses are kept confidential and your identity will not be published.

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