Head lice

Head lice


Head lice are tiny (pin-head sized) greybrown, wingless insects which live by sucking blood from the scalp. Their eggs are laid at the base of the hair and are known as nits. These will hatch out in seven to ten days with the empty egg sacs sticking to the hair. Head lice can be found on all hair colours and types regardless of whether hair is dirty or clean. The scalp will feel itchy and may be worse behind the ears or on the back of the neck.

There are two options available for treatment. You can get medicated treatment such as shampoos or scalp lotions from your local pharmacy. Alternatively try the ‘wet combing’ method which is the removal of live lice by combing through the hair with a very fine plastic nit detection comb, together with a conditioner.

You will need to check every member of your family for head lice if your child has them. Whichever option you choose to treat the head lice, it is important to recognise that neither will protect against re-infection if head-to-head contact is made with someone with head lice at a later date. Check your child’s hair regularly (every one to two weeks) using a plastic detection comb.

Find out more at the NHS website.

Last modified: 

10 Sep 2018