Head lice (or nits) are tiny wingless insects that are grey-brown in colour. They are the size of a pinhead when they hatch and 3mm long (the size of a sesame seed) when fully grown. Head lice cannot fly, jump or swim. They are spread by head-to-head contact and climb from the hair of an infected person to the hair of someone else. Head lice are not the result of dirty hair or poor hygiene. Children are often affected by head lice because they tend to have more head-to-head contact while at school or during play. Head lice are most common in children as they start to mix at nursery and school.
Getting rid of head lice:
The main treatments are wet-combing or lotions and sprays. If a treatment doesn't work the first time, you can try it again, try a different treatment, or get advice from your school nurse, health visitor, pharmacist or GP.
The wet-combing method involves removing the head lice by systematically combing the hair, from the scalp towards the ends, using a special fine-toothed comb with a spacing of less than 0.3mm. Your pharmacist can advise you on which combs are suitable. No medicated products are necessary for wet-combing.
Medicated lotion or spray is an alternative method for treating head lice. However, no medicated treatment is 100% effective. Some treatments need to be done again to make sure newly hatched lice are killed. Some medicated treatments are not suitable for children under two. Check with your pharmacist.