Lice Alert!

jupiterliceWhen the warmer weather arrives, we know that Lice ‘n’ Easy Shampoo will start flying off the shelf.

Even Gorgeous Guineas occasionally get lice!  This morning when I was giving Jupiter a pedicure and checking him over, I noticed some little wiggly white things (like tiny worms) crawling around in his hair.  These were running lice.  Often with crested guineas, the first very obvious place that you can see the lice is in their crest.  Whilst checking the rest of his body by parting his hair at various points, it was obvious that he needed a bath as soon as possible.  Lice can multiply extremely quickly.  If left, they can cause irritation, itching and sometimes watery eyes if there are a lot of lice around the face.

Lice are easy to deal with – two rounds of two shampoos a week apart with Lice ‘n’ Easy Shampoo will wash away the lice when the instructions are followed. Please don’t be tempted to do just one round of shampooing…..the first round gets rid of the lice and most of the nits (eggs), and the second round removes any remaining lice that have hatched during the week in between the two rounds of shampooing.

There are other options available that you may have used, or considered:

  • Human Lice shampoos – easily available from supermarkets / chemists. Why use a human product when one designed specifically for guineas is available? Some contain Permethrin (see below), but how do you know if active ingredients such as this are suitable and safe for guineas?
  • Spot-on products such as Xenex Ultra Spot On can kill off lice, but what about the dead bodies and nits that are left behind? These still need to be removed with shampoo so that the skin isn’t irritated by dead and decaying lice. This product also contains Permethrin as the active ingredient (see below).
  • Insecticidal pet shampoo – usually contains Permethrin as the active ingredient (see below).
  • Combing out the lice with a special lice comb – time consuming and potentially painful for a guinea with long hair. Lice combs are designed for human hair, not for guineas.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the names Pyrethrum and Permethrin which are often found in insecticidal products:

  • Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that comes from the flowers of specific species of Chrysanthemum.
  • Permethrin is a synthetic version of Pyrethrum with the chemistry based on natural Pyrethrum. It is this synthetic version that is most often used in insecticidal products because it is far more stable in sunlight. Natural Pyrethrum breaks down in about 12 hours, but Permethrin is far more stable and longer-lasting at 30 days plus.

If you decide to use ANY product containing Permethrin, please read the instructions that come with them carefully before use and make an informed choice. Permethrin is not only toxic to cats, but products such as the Xenex Ultra come with a Xenex Contra-indications that you need to be aware of. We have heard of a couple of guineas that have had bad reactions to the Xenex where the Central Nervous System was affected, including the lovely Daisy. Would I use anything containing Permethrin on my own guineas? NO – especially when the quickest, easiest and safest solution is using my own Lice ‘n’ Easy Shampoo!

Lice are easily passed from guinea to guinea by close contact, so it is always worth bathing all the guineas that live together at the same time.  Always put freshly bathed guineas back into a clean cage, and separate freshly washed guineas from those waiting to be bathed. For more information about running and static lice, check out this page.

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