Whether it is headlice or asthma, community pharmacy can help parents ensure their kids are healthy when they return to school…


A community pharmacist’s remit should include helping parents prepare their children to return to the classroom and there is a lot that can be done.

The first thing that arguably springs to mind is head lice which cannot be prevented but can be managed. There is a variety of medicated lotions and sprays that can kill head lice which pharmacies can stock.

If a patient returns to their pharmacy complaining these have failed to work, there are other options a pharmacist can recommend such as products containing permethrin, head lice repellents, electric combs for head lice and tree and plant oil treatments such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil herbal remedies.

Pharmacists can also stock fine-toothed combs, also known as detection combs, which are effective at removing head lice and nits. These combs are used on wet or dry hair although as NHS Choices suggests, they normally work best on wet hair with a conditioner. Combing should be repeated every few days for as fortnight.

As Claire Horne, the brand manager for Hedrin suggests, pharmacies are usually the first port of call for many parents when it comes to advice and treatment on managing head lice.

“It’s important that the whole team feels confident in advising parents about this common ailment. Because lice are so common during the back to school period, pharmacists should reassure parents that with the right approach and treatment, there is no need for it to be a cause of worry or frustration for parent or child,” she told Pharmacy Business.

“When pharmacists advise parents on head lice treatment they should also suggest a product for ongoing protection, such as Hedrin Protect & Go, a clinically-proven head lice protection spray containing Activdiol 1%.

“It can be used as a substitute to a detangling spray and should be applied at least twice a week. It protects children from the parasites by breaking the life cycle and killing lice before an infestation can be established.”

For pharmacists who want to expand their knowledge further, Hedrin have ‘Check-Treat-Complete’ (www.checktreatcomplete.co.uk), a 30-minute pharmacy head lice training module written in partnership with leading experts and accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

“By completing the training, pharmacy teams can refresh their knowledge on head lice so they are confident they’re providing the best possible advice, while also securing evidence of continued professional development,” Horne said.

Hedrin’s ‘Once a week, take a peek’ campaign was set up to educate parents on the need to check their children’s hair regularly and as a normal part of their family’s personal hygiene routine.

Naturally, the back-to-school agenda does not begin and end with head lice and nits. Pharmacists can offer advice and treatment on a range of other issues, from children’s asthma, playground grazes to vaccinations and vitamins and supplements.

Although it is well known that children’s inhaler techniques can be assessed in the pharmacy, a recent study involving Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee examined whether pharmacist‐led inhaler technique check services in schools can lead to better health outcomes.

It found that pharmacists visiting schools can help children and young people between the age of four and 15 and their families feel more confident about using an inhaler. That, the study concluded, would hopefully lead “to better condition management and fewer crises.”

It added: “School staff and peers may gain confidence in supporting (children and young people) using inhalers. Pharmacist interventions in schools for long‐term conditions merit further exploration of reach, impact and sustainability.”

According to Asthma UK, one in 11 children in the UK has asthma, which is the most common long-term medical condition among children.

There are on average two children with asthma in every classroom in the country, with 62% of children and young people having had an asthma attack while at school. All of which deepens the importance of community pharmacies playing a central role in this area.

Child asthma at a glance
• One in 11 children in the UK has asthma.
• On average there are three children with asthma in every classroom in the UK.
• The UK has among the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.
• A child is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes because of an asthma attack.

Source: Asthma UK