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Dealing with head lice – some HSA tips

October 11, 2019

As part of National Safe Work Month this October, we’re educating our members around health and safety issues in the salon, especially those that seem to fly under the radar.

One of these ongoing problems is head lice. They can be a common occurrence in the salon, but if not taken care of straight away, head lice can become a major health and safety issue for both clients and hair stylists.

There’s no official regulations around how to deal with lice in your salon, but there may already be a policy in place. With summer coming up (and kids going back to school) now is a good time to check.
We’ve got some great tips and tricks gathered from our HSA Ambassadors and our Organiser to make sure your salon is lice-free!

To identify lice: 

This part is never easy but remember to be aware of what the difference is between lice & dandruff, or if the eggs are dead or still alive once coming across them on the scalp.
Alive eggs are on/or close to the root area mainly around the nape, occipital bone and around the ears.
Dead eggs are off the root area and easily fall off the cuticle of the hair.
Dandruff is dead skin cells and without the proper knowledge around identifying lice – some stylists get this mixed up unfortunately. Dandruff is flaky and easily falls off the hair unlike lice, dandruff may also leave white or yellowish flakes on clothes and is NOT contagious.

What to do with an infected customer:

To make your client aware that they have come in contact with head lice, do it quietly and appropriately to prevent/ease embarrassment from the infection.
Proceed to give them treatment advice on how to rid the infection and let them know that unfortunately you cannot continue the service until they come back with the infection cleared up, to prevent spreading throughout the salon.

To treat head lice: 

  • Hand sanitiser: the alcohol in the sanitiser kills the live and dissolves the eggs, also by using a hair straightener after treatments will help kill eggs left as they don’t survive the heat.
  • Conditioner: Lather the hair in conditioner (grab a cheap one you will need a lot) and apply shower cap/glad warp for 1-2 hours to drown the lice, then proceed to take section by section with a fine tooth comb to make sure the hair is rid of dead lice and the eggs.
  • Tea-tree oil: pour Tea-tree oil into a plastic spray bottle diluted with water, apply thoroughly from roots to ends until evenly saturated – style up off face to prevent head lice at school (Tea-tree oil is a natural head lice replant and will prevent lice from infecting the hair)

For more info on treating head lice, click here to download a helpful PDF. 

To clean down your salon tools:

  • Capes, towels, clips, combs: Add boiling water to a bucket/sink use hospital grade disinfectant or methylated spirits diluted in the water – place all combs and clips into the sink alongside the cape and towel used on the infected client – remove cape and towel then proceed to add in a hot wash.
  • Scissors: apply methylated spirits to a towel and clean in between the blades very carefully and DO NOT run your finger up the blade with the towel, just in-between the attachment off both blades where the hair gets caught.

Your employer has obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act to protect the health of the salon’s employees and clients – plus, no one likes to deal with head lice! Thankfully, most owners are careful about lice and dealing with infestations. If you’re facing an outbreak and your employer isn’t helping to prevent it, though, it may be time to remind them of their legal requirements.

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