Head lice are tiny insects that live in hair and feed on blood from the scalp. They can be difficult to eliminate and need meticulous treatment.
Lice are about the size of a sesame seed and are brown or grey in colour. Their eggs (nits) are tiny, whitish spots about pinhead size. Nits are found glued to the hair shaft close to the scalp, especially behind the ears and at the back of the neck.
An itchy scalp is usually the first sign of infection. Lice are caught by head-to-head contact with an infected person or by sharing hats, combs or brushes. They are not caused by poor hygiene.
Careful treatment required
Lice can usually be eradicated by following these rules carefully:
- Buy a head lice treatment from the chemist (no prescription is required). Permethrin or maldison products are most popular. Lotions are generally more effective than shampoos.
- Apply the treatment to all the hair, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Repeat one week later to kill any lice which hatch after the first application.
- Comb out the dead lice and nits from wet hair with a fine tooth comb
- Check all family members (even if not itchy) and treat those affected.
- Hot wash all clothes, head gear, towels, bed linen, combs and brushes.
Check your child's hair regularly. Children often catch head lice again!
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.