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    The Facts About Head Lice

    • Head lice are small insects (about the size of a sesame seed when fully grown) that live on a hair shaft very close to the scalp. They are difficult to detect.
    • Eggs turn from a pale brown to white when empty and these are then called nits which stick to the hair. The eggs take 7-10 days to hatch and the lice take 7-14 days to mature and lay more eggs.
    • They feed by sucking blood through the scalp.
    • Head lice spread by climbing rapidly from head to head during close contact – they do not fly, jump or swim.
    • Anybody can get head lice – both adults and children.
    • A lot of head louse infections are caught from close family and friends in the home and community, not always at school.
    • Head lice don’t care if the hair is dirty or clean, short or long. Therefore they are not a sign of poor hygiene.

    How Do You Detect Head Lice?

    • Regularly (once weekly) check all the family by combing wet hair from the roots with a fine tooth-comb.
    • Check in good daylight after each stroke of the comb.
    • Check heads regularly (once a week) by:
      • Washing the hair and leaving wet (but not dripping)
      • Repeat this action all the way around the head (this should take 10-15 minutes).
      • NEVER use insecticides to PREVENT infection, or just in case.

    How To Treat Head Lice

    • Wet combing clears head lice over two weeks.
    • Wash the hair thoroughly with ordinary shampoo.
    • Leave the hair wet and apply lots of hair conditioner; comb through the hair from its roots with a fine toothcomb.
    • Clear the comb of lice between each stroke.
    • If you find any lice, repeat this routine every 3-4 days for 2 weeks, so that any lice hatching from the eggs are removed before they propagate.
    • Insecticidal lotions
    • Do not start treatment unless a living, moving louse is found. Ask your pharmacist/nurse/GP which treatment to use.
    • Apply lotions or liquids in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction leaflet
    • Check the head 2-3 days after the first treatment. If you still find living, moving lice reapply the treatment 7 days after the first and recheck again as before.
    • All members of the family should be treated at the same time

    Head Lice Fact Sheet