Head Lice

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice are tiny grey-brown, wingless insects, which live by sucking blood from the scalp. They have claws on the end of each of their six legs that enable them to cling to the hair and move about. They cannot jump and do not have wings, so they cannot fly. Their eggs are known as nits and they are glued to the base of hairs; they look like tiny white specks. Head lice are common in schoolchildren, who tend to work closely with their heads together, at school and at play, but anyone with hair can catch them.

How Do You Catch Head Lice?

Head lice are transferred by close hair-to-hair contact. They cannot jump, fly or swim, but walk from one hair to another. It is a misconception that head lice infestation is caused by having dirty hair or poor hygiene; in fact, head lice prefer clean hair and skin and have no preference for either long or short hair.

How Do I Know If I Have Head Lice?

The presence of head lice is indicated by repeated itching of the scalp, or by detecting them in the hair. This can be done using a special fine-toothed comb available from your local pharmacy. If you or your children have head lice you should check the rest of the family and alert close friends and your child’s school.

How Do I Treat Head Lice?

Once infestation is confirmed, there are several ways to treat them. Ask your pharmacist for advice on the best way to treat the infestation, they will usually suggest an over-the-counter insecticide lotion or crème rinse.Apply the preparation according to the instructions, and remove the lice and eggs with a fine-toothed nit comb.

Brown’s Pharmacy’s Top Tips For Preventing Head Lice

  • Tying back the hair of children with long hair, helps reduce the likelihood of contact between their hair and that of an infected child;
  • Remember to check the whole family and to alert the parents of friends and your child’s school;
  • Check for head lice on a regular basis using a fine-toothed nit comb;
  • Do not use medicated lotions or rinses just to prevent catching head lice, they should only be used if live lice are found to prevent resistance building up;
  • Using hair conditioners and combing regularly may help prevent head lice.