On this page you will find information about Head Lice, how to identify them and how to treat them. There is a further link to the NHS webpage with more information at the bottom of the page.
Around three million people in the UK catch head lice every year – and they’re most common among school children. Your child’s hair can be long, short, straight, curly, light, dark, clean or dirty – head lice aren’t fussy where they live.
1. Head lice can be found on clean or dirty hair, they have no preference!
2. Head lice cannot jump, swim or fly. They walk from one head to another by close, prolonged head contact.
3. It’s not only children that catch head lice. Anyone can catch head lice, including Mum, Dad or Gran!
4. Itching is not always a symptom of head lice. Only 30% of people with head lice will have an itchy head.
5. You cannot catch head lice from pets; they can only live on human heads.
6. It’s not only people with long hair that can catch head lice, short hair provides no protection.
7. If your child has head lice there is no need to keep them off school. However, you should inform the school and any other children that your child may have come into contact with. This process is known as ‘contact tracing’.
Most children will start to vigorously scratch their heads – often during their sleep. However, head lice don’t cause everyone’s heads to itch, especially if you’re an adult.
By examining the hair, you may see a live head louse – which will do its best to hide! You may also spot eggs – brownish if un-hatched or white if empty.
Another tell-tale sign is louse droppings. These look like a dusting of pepper on pillows or clothes.
Remember, the only way to be sure treatment is necessary is by finding a live louse on the head. Spotting eggs (hatched or un-hatched) or having an itchy head doesn’t mean you have head lice.
Finding a live head louse can be upsetting – but the important thing is not to make a big fuss. It’s perfectly normal to have head lice – about 1 in 10 primary school children will catch them each year.
Some parents find it useful to give head lice a nickname – such as bugs, crawlies or nits. Explain that, apart from causing itchiness, they are completely harmless insects that live in anyone’s hair, clean or dirty.
How to treat head lice
Treat head lice as soon as you spot them.
You should check everyone in the house and start treating anyone who has head lice on the same day.
There's no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice.
Head lice can be treated by either wet combing usual a special fine-toothed comb or by using medicated lotions and sprays. Please look at the NHS webpage below for more detailed information on how to treat your family.