Everything You Need to Know About Cold Sores

 

Cold Sores are extremely annoying and usually occur at the worst of times!

Our Haven Pharmacists have put together all of the information you need about cold sores; where they come from, how they spread and how to treat them…

Cold sores are mostly a benign viral infection that cause sores to form around the nose and mouth. Generally, the virus lays dormant in the body. However, in times of stress or illness the virus may be triggered and red blisters which can develop into weeping sores may appear.

What Causes Cold Sores?

The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores. HSV-1 is very common. When exposed to the virus for the first time most people will become infected however only 10% will develop cold sores. The sores appear 2-20 days after initial infection and last for about 10-14 days.

How are Cold Sores Spread?

Most people are infected by the virus as infants. It is spread by close contact, kissing or sharing cups, cutlery, face cloths or towels with friends and family members.

People with the virus may spread the sores from their mouths to their eyes by touching their mouth and then touching their eyes. It is important to contact your doctor immediately if your eye becomes red and sore.

Who is at Risk?

Usually, cold sores are only a minor nuisance, however babies and people with skin conditions such as eczema may become quite ill with the herpes virus.

What are the Symptoms of Cold Sores?

  1. First you will feel a tingling, burning, itchy sensation where the sore is about to appear. This is the sign to start treatment.
  2. Then a red and swollen patch will appear which will blister into a cold sore over a 24-hour period. Sores can, at this point, be painful, and sometimes make talking and eating difficult. At this point the treatment will reduce healing time.
  3. Without treatment, the sores become painful and begin to weep and crack.
  4. In roughly a week the sores begin to crust and scab over. The scab will fall off soon without scarring.
  5. The cold sore should heal completely within 10 to 14 days since it first began. However, the virus can be spread from the time of tingling until the crust has dried into a scab.

What is the Treatment for Cold Sores?

  • Most cold sores heal by themselves in 10-14 days.
  • Cold sore treatments, available over the counter from your local Haven Pharmacy, will include anti-viral medications, aesthetics, antiseptics or natural herbal remedies. These remedies will encourage healing, relieve pain or if caught in time help to prevent the cold sore from developing.
  • Talk to the pharmacist to find the most appropriate treatment for you. It is important to tell the pharmacist if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
  • The best time to treat a cold sore is before it happens. This is at the initial phase when the tingling symptoms occur. Applying an anti-viral cream to the affected area will help to prevent the cold sore developing further.
  • Directions for the anti-viral products may differ, however most will require the cream to be applied 5 times a day- roughly every 2 hours.
  • For blisters that have broken out, you can keep the cold sore clean by bathing it with warm water and patting it dry with tissue paper or a cotton bud. Washing hands before applying treatment is very important.
  • Washing hands after using the cold sore cream and avoiding re-using the same finger to get more cream out of the tube can prevent contamination of the medicine.
  • Using a lip moisturising cream can help with dry cracking lips that may result in further infection.

Why Do Cold Sores Keep Coming Back?

After the initial attack, the virus gets into the nerves at the part of the area the cold sore appeared. The virus lies dormant here until the next attack is triggered. Triggers include stress, tiredness, menstruation, pregnancy, strong sunlight or sunburn. A cold sore may also break out if you are feeling run down or have another illness

It’s important to manage your cold sore and understand the triggers. If you are at a stressful period of your life manage your stress by exercising or relaxation techniques, boost your immune system with healthy eating or adding a multivitamin. Also avoid dangerous sun exposure and protect your skin using sunscreens (SPF30+)

How Can You Prevent Cold Sores Spreading to Others?

  • Avoiding transfer of the virus to others means avoiding skin contact . Kissing, touching or picking the cold sore should be avoided especially when it has blistered and is weeping.
  • Use your own towel, eating utensils and don’t allow others drink out of your drinks.
  • Use your own lip balms, wipe lipstick testers and preferably use them on your hand.
  • Don’t touch the cold sore unless necessary for treatment and always wash your hands afterwards.

When Should You See a Doctor About Your Cold Sores?

  • If your cold sore spreads from your lips to other areas of the face, or if cold sores appear on other parts of your body.
  • If your cold sore has lasted longer than three weeks.
  • If you are experiencing a very severe cold sore or repeated attacks of cold sores.

If you are concerned about the size of your cold sore, or the length of time you’ve had it , call into any Haven Pharmacy where our expert staff will be happy to offer you advice and guidance.

 

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 20th – 26th January 2020

The Facts
Every year in Ireland about 300 women get cervical cancer and 90 women die from it. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer in women aged 25 to 39 years. Worldwide cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women with over 500,000 new cases and over 250,000 deaths in 2012.

Cervical Cancer Causes & Prevention
Most cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus, a very common virus that is passed on during sex. Most women will get this infection in their lifetime and it usually clears up by itself. If you smoke, it can prevent the infection from clearing up.

Ongoing HPV infections can cause abnormal changes in the lining of your cervix. These changes, if left untreated, can lead to Cervical Cancer. Not having regular smear tests can increase your risk of getting cervical cancer too. Cervical cancer is now largely preventable because there is a vaccine that guards against HPV (human papillomavirus). The HPV vaccine will make antibodies that will protect you against many HPV types.

Cervical Screening
Ireland has had a cervical cancer screening programme since 2008. However even in countries with well-established screening programmes many young women still die from cervical cancer. Cervical screening looks for pre-cancer changes of the cervix before they become cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents these precancer changes to the cervix. The HPV vaccine will greatly reduce the number of women dying from cancer and also the need for hospital treatment of cervical precancers (CIN). HPV vaccine protects against HPV types 16 and 18 which cause 7 out of 10 cervical cancers. The vaccine is licensed for girls and women aged 9–26. But it is proven to work best for girls and women who have not been exposed to the virus. It is still very important for girls to have regular smear tests when they are adults to detect cancers caused by HPV types not in the vaccine.

What are the symptoms of Cervical Cancer?
There are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer that you should be aware of. These include;
• Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
• Post-menopausal bleeding: if you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have stopped it for six weeks or more
• Unusual vaginal discharge
• Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
• Lower back pain

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms?
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms or are concerned about any new symptom you should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. You should report these symptoms even if you have recently had a cervical screening (smear test) that came back normal. Remember, these symptoms can be associated with many other conditions that are not cancer related. There are usually no symptoms associated with abnormal cervical cells and not all women diagnosed with cervical cancer experience symptoms, which is why it is so important to attend regular cervical screening when you are invited. A National Cervical Screening Programme is available in Ireland called CervicalCheck. The Government funds this service and provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60 years. The HPV vaccine will protect girls from developing cervical cancer when they are adults and is available free of charge from the HSE.

Are you due your Smear Test?
Regular screening saves lives. Don’t fear the smear – it’s free, painless and only takes a few minutes.  For more details, contact CervicalCheck at 1800 45 45 55 or visit the CervicalCheck website


As cervical cancer develops it can cause further symptoms. These may include:
• Increased frequency of urination
• Blood in the urine
• Bleeding from the bottom
• Diarrhoea
• Incontinence
• Lower limb lymphoedema (swelling)

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cervical cancer, The Irish Cancer Society can provide the information you need, whether you’re making a decision about treatment, looking for support or just need to understand the basics.

For More Information https://bit.ly/2RUEhN7

Sources of Information: The Irish Cancer Society, HSE, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust UK

 

 

10 Tips to Quit Smoking

 

We understand that quitting smoking is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. These tips will help keep you motivated and on track…

 

Tip 1: Plan your quit.

Quitting smoking isn’t an easy task. Call in to your local Haven Pharmacist to create a new plan that works for you to help you reach your goal.

Choose a date to quit smoking and stick with it. It’s a great way to mentally prepare to stop smoking.

Think about whether you want to quit completely or gradually and find the product(s) that are right for you.

Tip 2: Remember why you decided to quit.

Make a list of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking and put it somewhere you’ll see it. When you feel like you want to give up, remind yourself of why you are doing this and keep going!

Tip 3: Use the money you save on cigarettes to treat yourself.

The average smoker spends around €6.20 a day on cigarettes, which is a whopping €186 a month*. Calculate how much you could save! Make sure you actually see the money you save. Set up a special account or just start a ‘quitting jar’, to store the saved cash. Then for the fun part – deciding how to spend it.
*Based on a pack of 20 cigarettes costing €11.30 and the average number of 11 cigarettes a day

Tip 4: Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal may make you feel irritable, anxious or down. NICORETTE® can help tackle these withdrawal symptoms so you can carry on with your day! Find the right product(s) for you.

Tip 5: Quit with a friend.

Grab a friend who also wants to quit. That way, you can keep each other motivated and you’ll know you’re not in it alone.

Tip 6: Identify what makes you crave a cigarette.

Strengthen your willpower by limiting or skipping triggers you commonly associate with smoking. Learn how to identify your triggers and get tips for conquering your cravings.

Tip 7: Keep busy to resist the urge to smoke.

Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, resist it by keeping busy. Cravings usually last 5-10 minutes so make a list of things to do in this time. For example, walk around the block, call a friend, tidy your desk or catch up on the news.

Tip 8: Work out the stress.

Physical activity is a great way of dealing with the stress of quitting. Walk, run, swim, or take up a new activity. Your lung capacity improves by as much as 10% nine months after you quit so you’ll be able to do more.

Tip 9: Lean on your loved ones.

Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to quit. They know what an incredible thing you are doing and will support you along the way! When you are struggling to keep it going, lean on them for encouragement!

Tip 10: Think positive.

At times you may want to pack it all in and have another cigarette. When this happens, take a moment to think of all the positives that come with being smoke-free. You could have more energy, better sense of taste and smell, healthier looking skin, whiter teeth and many more health benefits.

 

Operation Transformation – Go Walking!

Did you start off 2020 with new goals and objectives for the year ahead? Perhaps one of them is to get fit & healthy or lose weight… one of the best ways we can do any of these is to Go Walking! It’s one form of exercise that is both free and easy to do. There’s literally no training involved, it can be a great social activity if you want it to be…. and you can do it anywhere!

The Operation Transformation Nationwide Walks Day will be held on Saturday 18th January 2020. Over 100,000 people have taken part in Nationwide Walks to date with tens of thousands expected again this year. What are you waiting for!!

We all know walking is good for us but it’s actually more important than we realise. Click on the infographic below to see the 20 benefits of walking:

Being physically active is probably the single most important thing that we can do for maintaining or improving our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Physical activity which includes an active lifestyle and routine exercise, like walking, plus eating sensibly is the best way to stay healthy.

The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland were published by the Department of Health and the HSE as follows:

Children and Young People (2-18)
All children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. Include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises 3 times a week.

Adults (18-64)
At least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week). You can count shorter bouts of activity towards the guidelines. These bouts should last for at least 10 minutes.

Older People (65+)
At least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance.

Walking is the best form of exercise as it can be tailored to most fitness levels and health needs – and it’s absolutely FREE! No gym membership, no sign up fees – all you need is comfortable footwear, appropriate clothing for the weather and you are good to go!

Here are 10 tips to help you get started and stay on track:

1. Ask a friend to join you in your new exercise routine, you will motivate each other to get out there each day
2. Join a walking group like Operation Transformation – a great way to meet new people and interact with your local community
3. Go for a stroll after dinner each day instead of watching television – make this a habit like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins
4. Give yourself an aim like walk to the shop to get milk or post a letter – it helps to have a reason to get to your destination
5. Change your route and explore different paths every day – that way it won’t seem so monotonous and you will gain more appreciation of your the surroundings on your doorstep
6. Leave the car at home and walk to public transport to get to work / shops – this is not only good for your health but you will also save money too!
7. Take the stairs instead of the lift or go the longer route instead of your normal routine – get those steps up each day
8. Aim to participate in a charity event like Darkness into Light on 11th May 2019 or other fundraisers in your community – build on your fitness so you are physically ready & looking forward to them
9. Keep track of your progress by using a calendar or a fitness tracker – you will soon see improvements in your timing and want to increase your steps
10. Remind yourself of the above 20 benefits – it’s not just a form of exercise but also a form of self care and mental well being

So come on everybody, dust off those trainers and lets get the nation Walking!!!

For more information on how to get started on your new fitness plan, call in to your local Haven Pharmacy for more advice!

How to care for someone with Flu at home

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.

 

How can I care for someone with flu at home?

If you are at home with flu or taking care of someone at home, follow these tips to help stop the flu spreading to others:

  • If you have the flu stay in one room with the door closed and, if possible, open a window for fresh air
  • Family members should limit time spent with someone with flu and avoid sharing dishes, books, toys, etc
  • Avoid face-to-face contact with someone who has the flu
  • Discourage visits from people not living in the house
  • If you have flu, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into your arm or sleeve (not hand) is recommended
  • Used tissues should be put into a bin and the bin sealed in the room and immediately taken outside for collection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing
  • Everyone in the house should frequently clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after every contact with someone with flu or their room or bathroom
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this helps spreads the flu virus
  • Surfaces and items inside the house should be cleaned regularly with bleach-based household cleaners

How is Flu spread?

If you are carrying the virus, you can spread it by coughing or sneezing. This can happen from 1-2 days before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after symptoms develop. Flu can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. You can get flu by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

How Serious is Flu?

The Flu virus is an unpredictable virus. If you are healthy you will usually recover in 7 days. But Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death. Complications of flu include bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and rarely acute encephalopathy (swelling of the brain). Serious complications of flu are more likely if you have a chronic medical condition or if you are aged 65 years or older. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of flu complications. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths.

At-risk groups

The HSE are strongly urging people in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. It is strongly recommended the vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age and over
  • are pregnant
  • are a child or adult with a long-term health condition
  • work in healthcare
  • are a carer or household contact of anyone at increased medical risk of flu
  • live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine. Don’t get the flu vaccine if you are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilimumab plus nivolumab). Vaccination should be re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C.

The Flu Vaccine

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year. People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP. The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group but you may be charged a consultation fee, unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card. The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu.

How it works

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick. The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks.

The seasonal flu vaccine is available from October 2019 until the end of April 2020

Speak to your local Haven Pharmacist about the Flu Vaccine. You can make an appointment in selected Haven Pharmacy stores nationwide.

 

For more information about Flu and it’s symptoms check out the HSE website

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About the Common Cold

Ever wonder why the symptoms of a cold tend to vary greatly? That’s because the common cold is caused by any one of more than two hundred viruses!

Adults tend to get two to four colds a year but children (especially preschoolers) may have up to eight to ten colds annually. Both adults and children are more susceptible to the common cold in the autumn and winter months when children are in school and people are spending a lot of time indoors.

Haven pharmacists have shared some of their expert advice so that you know what type of cold you have and how best to treat it. Also, we highlight the importance of self-care and dispel some “old wives” tales.

How Do We Catch a Cold?

The cold virus enters your body via your mouth or nose through contact with another carrier who has sneezed or coughed close to you. It can also spread by hand to hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects such as cutlery, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure you are likely to acquire a common cold. Other “old wives” tales about how you catch a common cold, such as going outdoors with wet hair for example, have never been proven with clinical studies.

What are the Symptoms of a Cold?

These symptoms generally gradually develop over a few hours and occur one to three days after exposure to the virus. They usually last about seven days. Some symptoms, such as a cough, may persist after the worst of a cold is over. Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Runny/blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Aches and pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Although you may feel hot when you have a cold it is unlikely to be a temperature. The presence of a fever may be an indication of flu rather than a cold.

During the summer months, you may have symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and irritated watery eyes but these are likely to be due to allergy or hayfever.

Who is Most at Risk?

Children

  • Children are more likely to get a cold because they haven’t developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause them. They also spend lots of time with other children who aren’t as careful about washing their hands – making it easier for the cold to spread.

Allergy sufferers

  • If you suffer from seasonal allergies (hayfever) or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, moulds or pet hair, which affects your nasal passages, you are more likely to develop a cold than people who do not have allergies.

Those living or working in close quarters

  • Viral and bacterial infections spread easily anywhere people gather – childcare centres, classrooms, hospitals, offices, prisons and military installations.

What are the Complications of the Common Cold?

Children, the elderly (especially those that are frail, malnourished or suffering from other illnesses), asthmatics and smokers have an increased chance of suffering from complications due to the common cold.

Acute ear infection in children

  • The most common complication of common colds in children is an acute ear infection (otitis media), which occurs when bacteria infiltrate the space behind the eardrum. Typical signs and symptoms include earaches and, in some cases, a green or yellow discharge from the nose or the return of a fever following a cold. Children who are too young to verbalise their distress may simply cry or pull on the affected ear.

**Unlike a common cold, ear infections may require treatment with antibiotics. Young children and children with chronic health problems are most likely to need antibiotics to treat an ear infection.**

Sinusitis

  • In adults or children, a common cold that doesn’t resolve may lead to sinusitis. Other secondary infections that may develop following a cold include strep throat, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. These infections need to be treated by a doctor.

When Should You Seek Medical Advice?

A cold generally goes away in about a week, although it may not disappear as quickly as you’d like. If your signs and symptoms last longer than a week, you may have a more serious illness, such as flu or pneumonia.

Seek medical attention if you have:

  • Temperature greater than 102 F (38.9C)
  • High temperature accompanied by achiness and fatigue
  • Temperature accompanied by sweating, chills and a cough with coloured phlegm
  • Symptoms that get worse instead of better

Seek medical attention if your child has any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Temperature of 103 F or higher, chills or sweating (39.4C)
  • Temperature that lasts more than 72 hours
  • Vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent crying
  • Ear pain

What is the Best Treatment for the Common Cold?

There is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics are of no use against cold viruses, and over-the-counter cold preparations won’t cure a cold or make it go away any sooner. However, over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and cough expectorants can relieve some symptoms so make sure you talk to your local Haven Pharmacist for advice.

One of the most important things to do, if you have a cold, is to look after yourself. Follow these self-care tips to make yourself as comfortable as possible:

Drink lots of fluid

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoke, which can cause dehydration and aggravate your symptoms.

Get some rest

  • Consider staying home from work if you have a temperature or a bad cough, or are drowsy from medications. This will give you a chance to rest as well as reduce the chances that you’ll infect others. Wear a mask when you have a cold if you live or work with someone with a chronic disease or compromised immune system.

Adjust your room’s temperature and humidity/steam yourself

  • Keep your room warm, but not overheated. If the air is dry use a vaporiser or humidifier. A cheaper and quite effective method is to boil a kettle several times in a room and place a small bowl of water on top of the radiator (if it is heated). The use of a steam inhalation hydrates the upper respiratory tract and helps loosen phlegm. Menthol and eucalyptus inhalants may also provide relief from the congestion caused by the common cold.

Soothe your throat

  • Gargling with warm salt water several times a day or drinking warm lemon water with honey may help soothe a sore throat and relieve a cough.

 

What is the Best Prevention for the Common Cold?

No effective vaccine has been developed because so many different viruses can cause a common cold. However, you can take some other precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses:

Take a vitamin C supplement during the winter months

  • Vitamin C is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Supplementation during the winter months may help to boost the immune system so the body can fight off cold and flu viruses more effectively.

Wash your hands

  • Clean your hands frequently and teach your children the importance of hand washing.

Keep things clean

  • Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, especially when someone in your family has a cold. Wash your child’s toys after play.

Use tissues & dispose of them carefully

  • Always sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away.

Sharing is not always caring

  • Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members. Use your own glass & cup when you or someone else is ill.

Steer clear of others with a cold

  • Avoid close, prolonged contact with anyone who has a cold.

Choose your child-care centre carefully

  • Look for a child-care setting with sound hygiene practices and clear policies about keeping ill children at home.

For more advice contact your local pharmacist. Trust Haven to put your family’s health first this Winter.

12 Injuries of Christmas

Now that Christmas is in full swing we thought we would share our new Medicare Festive First Aid Guide – although this is a happy time of year there are many accidents that may occur, this handy guide is designed to provide key information in a light and informative manner.

The Guide includes the 12 Injuries of Christmas namely – Cuts & Scrapes / Choking / Head Injuries / Sprains &Strains / Cardiac Arrest / Burns & Scalds / Fainting / Electric Shock / Eye Injury / Fractures & Breaks/ Nosebleeds/ The Recovery Position.

1. Burns & Scalds

Burns and scalds are common injuries which, if only mild, can be easily treated at home. Examples of burns may involve candle lighting or lighting the Christmas Pudding while scalds could involve straining Brussel sprouts or pouring off the turkey fat.

Types of Burns
Superficial Burn (First Degree Burn): This type of burn affects only the outer layer of skin, otherwise known as the epidermis. This is classified as the mildest type of burn but is still tender to touch and may cause swelling.
Partial-thickness Burn (Second Degree Burn): While this type of burn looks and feels very similar to a superficial burn, you will experience blistering of the skin. It is important to remember not to burst these blisters, as their function is to prevent infection.
Full-thickness Burn (Third Degree Burn): A full-thickness burn affects both the epidermis and dermis layers of skin and, as you probably guessed, is the most severe type of burn. A burn like this may look pale, black, charred and waxy and surprisingly will be painless as the nerve endings will have been burnt away. If you experience this type of burn, you must seek urgent medical attention.

Treating a Burn
1. The first thing you must do after suffering a burn is cool it down, by running it under tepid water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
2. You must remove any jewellery, such as watches and rings, before skin tissue begins to swell.
3. Applying Medicare Burn Gel or Burn Gel Dressing and covering the burnt area with a non-fluffy sterile dressing such as Medporex will help to protect it from infection.
4. Treat the casualty for shock.

If a child or infant has suffered a burn, regardless of the severity, they must be treated in hospital. In addition to this, all full-thickness burns, burns that extend around the arm or leg or burns involving the face, genitals, hands or feet should be treated by a medical professional.

 

2. Fainting

Fainting is typically caused by a lack of oxygenated blood reaching the brain and can be described as a sudden temporary loss of consciousness. There may not be any warning symptoms when you suffer a stroke but some people recall feeling sick and confused, lightheaded, blurred vision and fast, deep breathing.

Before you faint, you are likely to feel weak and unsteady before eventually passing out for a short period of time.

Causes of Fainting
There are several reasons behind fainting, such as:

  • Emotional stress
  • Pain
  • Lack of food
  • Pregnancy
  • Exhaustion
  • Fear
  • Prolonged standing

Treatment for fainting
If someone is feeling faint then you should advise them to lie down on the floor and raise their legs higher than their head. This position will help to improve blood flow back to the brain.

If someone around you has fainted and has not recovered after two minutes, then you should place them in the recovery position and closely monitor their airways and breathing. Once they are in the recovery position, you should call for emergency medical help. Be prepared to resuscitate the patient if they stop breathing.

If you have suffered a fainting episode, there are things that you can do to avoid it happening again, such as avoiding triggers like stress and hot/crowded environments. Spotting the warning signs beforehand, so that you can lie down and increase blood flow to the brain will help to prevent further fainting incidents.

 

3. Cuts and Grazes

Cuts and grazes are common injuries that can usually be treated at home. A wound is an injury to the skin and can be classified depending on what causes the injury. It is easy to ignore cuts and grazes, as they do not cause much harm, but it is important to realise that they carry the risk of infection.

A graze, also known as an abrasion, is a superficial wound that involves the removal of the top layer of the skin. Grazes are often caused by friction, meaning that there is a higher risk of foreign objects entering the wound and causing infection.

A cut is typically caused by a sharp edge which can result in increased blood loss and damage to underlying soft tissues.
These injuries can occur at Christmas due to tasks such as cutting/ shaping the Christmas Tree, prepping vegetables for Christmas dinner or paper cuts wrapping those presents!

How to treat cuts & grazes
Graze: Firstly, you must remember to clean the wound to avoid any potential infection with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray to remove any foreign objects. Pat the wound dry with a sterile swab and cover with a Medicare dressing or a plaster.

Cut: Again, cleaning the wound with Medicare Effigerm First Aid Spray should be a priority to eradicate any foreign objects. Warm water tends to be more comfortable as this cleans the cut. Ensure that the wound is dry and cover it with a Medicare dressing or plaster.

 

4. Eye Injury

Many of us will be celebrating the holiday with a little bubbly. Make sure your celebrations do not turn disastrous for your eye health by learning how to properly open a champagne bottle.

Every year, improper cork-removal techniques cause serious and potentially blinding eye injuries. A champagne cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle – fast enough to shatter glass. At such speeds, you have no time to react and protect your eye. (Source: GetEyeSmart.org)

How to treat an eye injury
Don’t fall victim to permanent eye damage by following some simple guidelines below:

  1. Before you open the bottle, chill it for a few hours. Experts say the ideal temperature is between 39 and 48 Fahrenheit degrees. Cold champagne is less likely to spurt out of the bottle.
  2. Take the bottle out of the fridge carefully, do not jostle or shake the bottle. Remove the plastic foil and wire cage that holds the cork in place.
  3. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, making sure it’s pointing away from you and anyone else. It helps to hold a napkin over the top of the cork to get a good grip and keep everything in place.
  4. Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. As the bottle turns, the cork will slowly ease out. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
  5. Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

Should you ever experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.

 

5. Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are usually not serious and can be simply treated at home. They are typically caused when the inside of your nose is damaged blowing your nose too hard or even due to changes in temperature.

There are certain instances where a nosebleed will need professional medical attention, which is when they occur from deeper inside the nose. Examples of this include when the nose has been broken when it is caused by high blood pressure or by taking a specific type of medication or by conditions that affect the blood vessels or how the blood clots.

There are certain people who are more prone to experiencing nosebleeds:

  • Children (they usually grow out of them by the age of 11)
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women

How to treat a nosebleed

  1. Make sure that you are sitting or standing upright and not lying down.
  2. Pinch your nose just above the nostrils for around 10-15 minutes.
  3. Lean forward and breathe through your mouth.
  4. Have a cloth or bowl ready for any drips or dribbles of blood.
  5. Place a Medicare Instant ice pack at the top of your nose to reduce any swelling that may have been caused.
  6. After 10-15 minutes, allow the casualty to stop pinching their nose.

If the bleeding has stopped after the 10 minutes, you should advise the casualty to rest and avoid blowing their nose for several hours, as this may disturb any blood clots that have formed and is likely to trigger another nosebleed.
However, if the bleeding has not stopped, then the patient must pinch the soft part of their nose for a further 10 minutes. If the nosebleed continues after 30 minutes, the casualty must be taken to the hospital to receive medical attention.

 

6. Choking

Choking can be a common injury at Christmas. Most incidents occur around eating large amount of food while other choking incidents that may occur involve babies/ toddlers picking up random items from under the Christmas tree
Choking can be classified as mild or severe and is when an object has become partially or completely stuck in the throat. This causes the muscles in the throat to spasm, making breathing difficult or impossible.

It is vital to keep airways (nose, mouth, throat or lungs) open so that air can travel through to our lungs and transfer oxygen into our blood. A blockage to the airway is a life-threatening emergency that should be immediately treated.

How to treat a choking adult/child

  1. Encourage the casualty to bend forward from the waist and support them with one hand.
  2. With the other hand, deliver up to 5 sharp back blows with the heel of your hand. This should be done between the choking victim’s shoulder blades.
  3. If the obstruction isn’t cleared after the back blows have been completed, you must stand behind the casualty and place both of your arms around them. Encourage them to lean forward, as before, and then provide them with 5 abdominal thrusts. This can be done by placing one fist between the belly button and the bottom of the breastbone and the other fist on top of that. Pull the fists sharply inwards and upwards to deliver an abdominal thrust. This should be carried out 5 times too.
  4. Check the casualty’s mouth for obstructions and repeat 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts up to 3 times. If the airway is still not cleared, call for an ambulance and continue treating the patient until help arrives.
  5. If they become unresponsive, then you must prepare to resuscitate.

How to treat a choking infant

  1. For patients under 1, treatment for choking must be carried out differently to support the baby’s head.
  2. Lay the infant down along your forearm, so that their head is lower than their chest.
  3. Deliver 5 back blows with the heel of one hand between the infant’s shoulder blades. Check their mouth for obstructions between each back blow.
  4. If the airway is still blocked, then you must turn the infant onto their back and place two fingers on the breastbone, thrusting sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this movement up to 5 times, again checking for obstructions after each thrust.
  5. If the blockage has not cleared, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to 3 more times.
  6. Call for an ambulance if the blockage is still there and be prepared to perform CPR if the infant becomes unresponsive

 

7. Sprains & Strains

A sprain is a muscle, ligament or tendon that has been twisted or torn, while a strain is a muscle that has been overstretched and partially torn. Both injuries can cause mild or severe pain but can usually be treated at home.

What causes a sprain or strain?
Sprains are most commonly acquired through sports or exercising, primarily when your muscles are tired or you have failed to warm up beforehand. The muscles will become overstretched, meaning that any sudden movements can lead to a tear.
Simply changing direction too quickly or falling in an awkward position can lead to a sprain or strain, other festive injuries could include icy/slippery footpaths, wet kitchen floors and those dreaded high heels shoes!

Treating a sprain
The main indicators that you have sustained a sprain or strain is tenderness or weakness of the injured area, along with potential swelling or bruising.
Remembering the RICE acronym is essential when you experience a sprain or strain as this will help you to make a full recovery and avoid any further damage.

Rest – Stop any exercise that you are doing and refrain from putting any weight on the injured area, advisably for 24-48 hours.
Ice – Apply a Medicare Instant Ice Pack to the injury for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours which will assist in reducing the pain and swelling.
Compression – Wrap a Mediform bandage around the sprain or strain to give extra support.
Elevate – Keep the injury raised above the level of your heart, to decrease pain and throbbing. You can do this by propping the injured area on a pillow.

After 2 weeks, most sprains will start to feel better. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for up to 8 weeks after your sprain injury. If your strain or sprain has not healed within this timescale, then you may be recommended for physiotherapy to help your injury return to its normal state.

 

8. Fractures & Breaks

The icy weather around the festive period can lend itself to may slips and falls that can lead to painful fractures or worse even breaks.

Depending on the injury, we may not know straight away that it’s broken. You don’t need us to tell you that if there’s a bone coming through the skin, it’s pretty obvious but it may not be quite that clear.

How to treat a fracture/break

It may start to swell and become bruised which looks similar to a sprain. Usually we can tell due to how the injury happened. Impact on an area may be more likely to be a break whereas a sudden, unusual movement i.e. twisting is more likely to be a sprain.

Treatment is simple. Keep the injured area still and supported comfortably and take a trip to A&E. Minimal movement is important regardless of where on the body this is. However, a broken leg may require an ambulance whereas a broken wrist may not.

 

9. Head Injuries

Head injuries can occur in many instances over the holiday period such as slipping on a wet kitchen floor or a child’s toy.

How to treat a head injury

If there’s a bump on the head, the most effective way to treat it is with a cold compress or an ice pack to help reduce the swelling. However this isn’t the most vital part of the first aid.

With head injuries, monitoring the casualty is paramount. We’re looking for certain signs and symptoms that show us the injury may be getting worse. Are they particularly drowsy? Are they acting out of sorts, maybe not quite themselves? Are they throwing up and complaining of a headache that won’t shift?

If any if these symptoms are present, they need to get them to a hospital. If they’re deteriorating quickly, call 999. Otherwise you can take them to A&E if you’re worried at any point – it is better to go and find out

 

10. Electric Shock

Every year, 1,000 people die because of electrical accidents. Festive accidents may include plugging in a faulty string of Christmas lights which can cause serious burns.

Young children often suffer burns in their mouths from chewing on an electrical cord or playing with an outlet. Knowing what to do in the event of such an accident can limit the extent of the burn and possibly save a life.

Don’t touch anything until you’ve assessed the situation. If the victim is still in contact with the electrical source, touching him or her could expose you to life-threatening danger. If possible, turn off the source of electricity. Unplug the appliance or turn off the building’s main power. Don’t depend on the appliance’s switch, which could be faulty.

If you are unable to turn off the electricity, you need to quickly and carefully separate the victim from the source of the current. Stand on a pile of clothes or newspapers, a rubber mat, a book, or other insulating material. Using a broomstick, plastic mop handle, wooden chair, rope or other nonconducting object, separate the victim from the source of electricity (nonconducting objects can be anything made of cardboard, plastic, or wood; a wooden baseball bat or a branch will serve the purpose.) Be careful to keep these materials dry. Do NOT touch the victim with your hands or with anything that is wet or made of metal.

How to perform first aid

Assess the victim’s condition and check for breathing. If breathing has stopped, call 999 and begin CPR immediately. If the person is breathing but unconscious, check for burns. These may be present at both the entry and exit sites of the electric current, so check the entire body. Cover burns with sterile gauze bandages, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t put heavy blankets or towels on the burns because their weight could cause pain. Treat minor burns as you would any kind of burn. If the wound is serious, however, don’t try to cool the burn or apply ointment or oil to it.

A person with an electrical burn should get immediate medical attention even if the skin doesn’t seem injured or if the wound does not appear deep. Electrical burns often cause serious injury inside the body that may not be apparent on the skin. If you have any doubts, call 999, even if the victim is conscious and says she feels okay. Electrical burns are often deeper and more serious than they appear.

While you’re waiting for help, check to see if the victim is faint or shows signs of shock, including pale or clammy skin and a rapid pulse. If this is the case, elevate their legs slightly, cover them with a light blanket and wait for help.

 

11. The Recovery Position

Although not an injury The Recovery Position is something that everyone should be aware of. This procedure should be used to treat an unresponsive victim who is still breathing.

This position will help to manage the casualty’s airway by preventing their tongue from falling to the back of their throat. It also protects the airway from vomit which eliminates the risk of choking and causing further harm to the patient.

Airways consist of your nose, mouth, throat and lungs. It is vital that these are kept open to enable the passage of air to your lungs, so that oxygen gets transferred into your blood.

How to perform the Recovery Position

  1. Kneel down next to the casualty, roughly level with their chest.
  2. Place the arm that is nearest to you at a right angle with their hand upwards, towards their head.
  3. Tuck their other hand under the side of their head.
  4. Bend their knee farthest from you to a right angle.
  5. Carefully roll the victim onto their side by pulling their bent knee.
  6. The victim’s top arm should be supporting their head and their bottom arm will stop them from rolling too far.
  7. To open their airway, tilt their head back and lift their chin.

Recovery Position & Spinal Injuries

If you suspect that the victim has suffered a spinal injury, they should NOT be moved, unless they are in imminent danger.

Moving a casualty with a spinal injury should always remain a last resort. However, if necessary, the recovery position can be adjusted to avoid further damage to the spine.

This position is known as the ‘log roll,’ which is where the casualty’s limbs are straightened and they are moved in one slow, steady movement. The head, chest, hips and legs should be supported at all times, to keep the spine straight.

 

12. CPR

When someone falls victim to a sudden cardiac arrest, blood stops circulating around their body to deliver oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Therefore, performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in this instance is crucial to keep oxygen flowing and increase their chance of survival.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction of the heart and can sadly affect people of all ages. Without CPR in a cardiac arrest emergency, a victim’s chance of survival is very slim. For every minute that passes in the event of an SCA, survival rates decrease by 10%, which is why early intervention is so important.

How to perform CPR

Before you perform CPR, you must check the scene of the emergency, to ensure that it is safe. Firstly, tap the casualty’s shoulder and ask ‘Are you OK?’ in both ears.

If you are alone, make sure that you remember to call 999 and grab the nearest available defibrillator. However, if someone else is present, you should get them to do this for you and you concentrate on the casualty.

Next, you should open the airway of the casualty by lying them on their back and tilting their head back to lift the chin.

If there is no indication of breathing after 10 seconds, you should immediately begin CPR.

  1. The rate of CPR is 30 chest compressions to 2 rescue breaths.
  2. Place your hands, one on top of the other, in the middle of the chest and use your weight to help you administer hard compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
  3. For rescue breaths, tilt the person’s head back slightly and lift the chin, pinch the nose and place your mouth over theirs to make a complete seal. Blow into their mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths and continue with compressions. (If you are untrained in rescue breaths, you can still help the victim by using hands-only CPR).
  4. Continue giving cycles of thirty chest compressions and two rescue breaths until help arrives or the casualty begins to regain responsiveness and starts to breathe normally.

CPR is a skill that will equip you with the knowledge to save a life.

Have you had your Flu Vaccine yet?

The seasonal flu vaccine is available from October 2019 until the end of April 2020

What is the Flu?

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.

How flu is spread?

If you are carrying the virus, you can spread it by coughing or sneezing. This can happen from 1-2 days before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after symptoms develop. Flu can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. You can get flu by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

How Serious is Flu?

The Flu virus is an unpredictable virus. If you are healthy you will usually recover in 7 days. But Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death. Complications of flu include bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and rarely acute encephalopathy (swelling of the brain). Serious complications of flu are more likely if you have a chronic medical condition or if you are aged 65 years or older. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of flu complications. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths.

How can I care for someone with flu at home?

If you are at home with flu or taking care of someone at home, follow these tips to help stop the flu spreading to others:

  • If you have the flu stay in one room with the door closed and, if possible, open a window for fresh air
  • Family members should limit time spent with someone with flu and avoid sharing dishes, books, toys, etc
  • Avoid face-to-face contact with someone who has the flu
  • Discourage visits from people not living in the house
  • If you have flu, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into your arm or sleeve (not hand) is recommended
  • Used tissues should be put into a bin and the bin sealed in the room and immediately taken outside for collection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing
  • Everyone in the house should frequently clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after every contact with someone with flu or their room or bathroom
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this helps spreads the flu virus
  • Surfaces and items inside the house should be cleaned regularly with bleach-based household cleaners

The Flu Vaccine

This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year. You should get your flu vaccination from early October to be protected for flu season. People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP. The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group but you may be charged a consultation fee, unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card. The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu.

How it works

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick. The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks.

At-risk groups

The HSE are strongly urging people in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. It is strongly recommended the vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age and over
  • are pregnant
  • are a child or adult with a long-term health condition
  • work in healthcare
  • are a carer or household contact of anyone at increased medical risk of flu
  • live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine. Don’t get the flu vaccine if you are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilimumab plus nivolumab). Vaccination should be re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C.

Speak to your local Haven Pharmacist about the Flu Vaccine. You can make an appointment in selected Haven Pharmacy stores nationwide.

For more information about Flu and it’s symptoms check out the HSE website

 

 

Probiotics – a closer look at gut health

What is a Probiotic?
The word probiotic is a compound of two Greek words: “pro” to signify promotion of, and “biotic” – life. Probiotics are bacteria that line digestive tract and they are also known as friendly bacteria.

The difference between pathogenic bacteria or candida, and probiotics, is that the probiotic organisms have a symbiotic relationship with our bodies and both together they form a mutual defence treaty

  • The first and most overlooked reason that our digestive tract is critical to our health is because 80 percent of our entire immune system is located in the digestive tract!
  • In addition to the impact on our immune system, our digestive system is the second largest part of our neurological system.
  • It is called our enteric nervous system and is located in our gut. This is why it is called our second brain! 
  • Many people with health issues such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism, and many other conditions do not realize that these illnesses originate in the gut.

The strongest evidence to date finds that probiotic benefits include: boosting immune system, prevent and treat urinary tract infections, improve digestive function, heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS, manage and prevent eczema in children, fight foodborne illnesses, treat colitis and Crohn’s disease, combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, treat liver disease, battle cancer, manage autism, lower cholesterol and the list is endless!

What affects our gut flora?
➢ Prescription Antibiotics

➢ Sugar

➢ Chlorine (Tap Water!)

➢ GMO Foods (Genetically Modified)

➢ Grains

➢ Emotional Stress

➢ Chemicals and medications

In order to improve gut flora balance, make sure to avoid the probiotic killers. We are exposed to many of these foods, toxins and stressors on a daily basis, and if going to restore digestive health, they must be addressed. If they’re not addressed, gut micro-organisms become imbalanced and system can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites.

How Probiotics Work?

Gut contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Nutrition experts agree that the balance of gut flora should be approximately 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. When this ratio gets out of balance, the condition is known as dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of too much of a certain type of fungus, yeast or bacteria that is affecting the body in a negative way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad bacteria can damage the intestines causing irritation and reduced nutritional absorption

 

Consuming certain types of probiotic foods and supplements can help bring these rations back into balance.

 

By Agne Kazlauskiene

Back To School Hair Care

Back to school can unfortunately bring with it dreaded Head Lice. Children are most likely to have head lice infestations because of their relative close proximity to one another in schools and the playground. They are not a cause for embarrassment nor are they a result of unhygienic environments, but because of their highly contagious nature they simply thrive in busy close human to human places, like kids parties, sport activities and summer camps.

Head lice are a harmless but irritating pest that can cause severe distress to both parents and children. Most people will experience trying to tackle head lice at some point in their lives. Head lice are not dangerous for your child, but you do want to get rid of them as soon as possible to avoid spreading to others.

In our Haven Pharmacies, we often meet parents who have taken every precaution available to them and are still surprised when their child manages to catch head lice. You cannot prevent head lice and anyone with hair can get head lice not just children. Despite common misconception, they aren’t fussy about clean or dirty hair!

Hopefully this blog will enable you to spot a louse, but if in doubt, we would encourage you to drop into your local Haven to speak to an expert who can advise you on the best course of action.

What are Head Lice?

Head lice are small blood sucking insects that live on the human scalp. They are one of the most common childhood conditions worldwide. Head lice are tiny wingless insects that are grey-brown in colour. They are the size of a pinhead when they hatch and 3mm long (the size of a sesame seed) when fully grown. Although children are most commonly affected, anyone with hair can get head lice. Nits are empty eggs left behind when lice hatch. They can be white, yellow or brown.

Image result for head lice

 

What Causes Head Lice?

They are passed by head to head contact. They cannot jump or fly from one head to another, so it is this close contact that spreads them from one person to another. They prefer the warmest parts of the head so are usually found behind the ears or in the nape of the neck. Head lice only affect humans and cannot be passed on to animals or be caught from them. Lice will not survive on bedding or clothing, but it’s advised to change and wash pillow cases after detection.

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

The usual symptoms of head lice are persistent itching of the scalp, finding empty white or opaque eggshells in the hair or on the shoulders. Itching is not caused by the lice biting the scalp but by an allergy to the lice so may not always be present. Some people are not allergic to head lice, so they may not notice that they have a head lice infestation. Even if someone with head lice is allergic to them, itching can take up to three months to develop. In some cases of head lice, a rash may appear on the back of the neck. This is caused by a reaction to louse droppings.

Image result for symptomshead lice

Detecting Head Lice

In order to confirm an active infestation, a louse must be found through a reliable method, such as using a fine tooth comb otherwise known as wet combing. No treatment should be used unless a louse is found. Regular combing is more effective at detection than relying on a repellent spray. A good tip is to use a hair dryer on low speed and low heat to search the hair thoroughly.

Image result for wet combing lice

Treating Head Lice

There are many treatments for treating head lice and help reduce their reoccurance:

    • Wet comb children’s hair regularly to prevent an infestation of head lice. The hair is divided into sections with a regular comb, and then a lice detection comb should be drawn from the scalp to the ends of the hair, checking for lice at each stroke. Sufficient combing may take up to 30 minutes per head. Parents can be reassured that regular combing can be just as effective as a chemical-based treatment at removing live lice, especially in smaller numbers.
    • If head lice are found, inform those who they have been in close contact with, to check if they are present in their children.
    • Head lice can be found in all types of hair, clean or dirty, long or short, so children should be reassured it’s not a ‘dirty’ problem
    • Head lice don’t live on pets or other animals, so they can’t be caught from a family pet
    • Resistance to head lice treatments can occur, so only treat those who have head lice. Head lice treatment should never be used unless a live louse is found.
    • Conduct regular weekly checks for head lice to make sure that you can treat an infestation as soon as possible
    • Medicated lotions and sprays are not effective in preventing head lice infestations. They should only be used if a live louse has been found on your or your child’s head.
    • Treatment can be regarded as successful if no live lice are found on both days three and seven after completion of a course of treatment.
    • Itching may persist several weeks after a successful treatment and parents should be reassured not to keep re-treating unless you find live lice.

After Treatment

Check the hair again 2 days after the treatment, to make sure it has worked. If you find nits, but don’t find lice, don’t treat again. Nits may be left behind on the hairs but this does not mean the treatment has failed. Only treat if you find living, moving lice. If you find lice after the treatment, it means that your child has been re-infected with lice or the initial treatment wasn’t carried out correctly. Check the whole family again and treat all those with lice and ask your GP or Haven pharmacist for more advice.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

The best way to prevent head lice is to keep long hair tied up in a plait or a bun. Tea Tree Oil shampoo can also be used to prevent head lice. You can either buy one of these ready-made shampoos or you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular soft shampoo. Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal properties, and have thus the property to kill adult head lice and nymphs.

Avoid Re-infestation

Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed.  Follow these steps to help avoid re–infestation by lice that have recently fallen off the hair or crawled onto clothing or furniture:
– Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (60°C) cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
– Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 60°C) for 5–10 minutes.
– Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp

There are a range of very effective over the counter remedies available from your local Haven Pharmacy to help treat head lice. If a pharmacy treatment is requested, either a pesticide or a non-pesticide lotion can be recommended. All need to be repeated and none guarantee absolute success. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven Pharmacist for advice on which treatment suits your needs. For more information check out the HSE Website