Head lice have been around for many thousands of years. Anyone can get head lice and given the chance head lice move from head to head without discrimination.
Head lice are small, wingless, blood sucking insects.
Lice can crawl and hide. The easiest and most effective way to find them is to follow these steps:
If lice or eggs are found, the child's hair should be treated.
Head lice eggs are small (the size of a pinhead) and oval. A live egg will 'pop' when squashed between fingernails.
Egg is laid on hair shaft. Egg is called a 'nit'.
Concentrate on the head - there is no evidence to suggest that you need to clean the house or classroom.
No treatment kills all of the eggs so treatment must involve two applications seven days apart.
If you are using lotions, apply the product to dry hair.
There is no need to treat the whole family, unless they also have head lice.
Only the pillowcase requires specific laundering; either wash it in hot water (at least 60 degrees centigrade) or dry it using a clothes dryer on the hot or warm setting.
There is no product available that prevents head lice. Using the conditioner and comb method once a week will help you detect any head lice early and minimise the problem. Tying back long hair can help prevent the spread of head lice.
Combs with long, rounded stainless steel teeth positioned very close together have been shown to be the most effective, however, any head lice comb can be use.
Further information and resources are provided to help you detect, treat and manage headlice.
Communicable Diseases Section
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