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Head Lice

Head Lice

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Published by Simon Williams

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Published by: Simon Williams on Mar 09, 2009
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10/18/2010

 
www.dpp.org.uk
Head lice
HEALTH INFORMATION FROM DPP
 
What are lice like?
Lice are small beige-grey coloured insects that live on human hair and lay eggs attachedto the hair near the scalp. They vary in size – from pinhead size to the size of a sesameseed on a burger bun. Live eggs are hard to see, but the shells turn white when the licehave hatched. The empty egg shells are called nits. They cannot be flicked off likedandruff as they stick strongly to the hair.
Nits don’t need treatment – but lice andtheir eggs do!
Head lice facts
Anyone with hair on their head (clean or dirty) can get lice.Head lice cannot jump or fly – they crawl from one head to another.Lice can cause itching but you can often have head lice and not feel itchy.The eggs take seven to ten days to hatch.Animals don’t pass head lice to humans so you can’t catch them from pets!Nits remaining in the hair after the lice and their eggs have been killed do notneed treatment.
Howcan I tell if my child has head lice?
Wash your child’shair in the usual way and leave it wet. Untangle and straighten thehairwith an ordinary comb - conditioner may help. Then use a plastic fine tooth comb(available from your pharmacy – it must be fine enough to catch the lice) to comb fromthe roots to the tips of the hair. Keep the teeth touching the scalp gently for as longpossible and work it around the whole head. Check the comb for lice between strokesandremove them by wiping the comb on paper or rinsing before the next stroke. Afterthe whole head has been combed rinse out the conditioner and repeat the combingprocess in the wet hair.
This is called the detection method.
Head lice aren’t fussy and will live in clean or dirty hairmost children will come into contact with them atsome point. Luckily they don’t cause health problemsand are more of a nuisance than anything else. Thisleaflet gives you tips on how to check for head liceand how to treat head lice if you find them!
 
What can I do to tackle head lice?
Check your child’s hair regularly (once or twice a month) usingthe detection method (above).Tell your child to avoid sharing other people’s combs or brushes.
Tip:
If you find living lice in one person check every head in your family and treatthem in the same way.
Treating head lice
If you find
living lice
(not nits) there are several treatment options that you can choosefrom. Remember – treatment should
only
be used if live lice are detected.
Lotions and liquids containing insecticides
There are several insecticide treatments available from your pharmacy. It is important toask your pharmacist for advice on the best lotion to use as some insecticide treatmentsmay be unsuitable for some people (like pregnant women, babies or people withasthma). Treat all members of the family who have live head lice, at the same time,with a suitable treatment. Remember there is no need to treat the empty lice shells(nits) – only live lice.These treatments cannot stop your child from catching head lice and may not kill louseeggs so it is important to check for baby lice 5 to 12 days after application using thedetection method. If you do find them you will need to try a different treatment orspeak to a pharmacist, nurse, health visitor or GP who can advise you.
Wet combing/bug busting
This removes lice by combing through the hair from the roots to the ends with a speciallouse detection comb (which picks up the smallest lice) and doesn’t involve usingchemicals. A ‘Bug Buster Kit’, which contains the right combs and instructions, isavailable to buy from your pharmacy or you can get it on prescription from a GP, healthvisitor or nurse. You can also order the kit online from Community Hygiene Concern at
www.nits.net/bugbusting
or by calling the Bug Buster Helpline on 020 7686 4321.All kits are sent out within 24 hours.

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