What are Head lice?

Head lice are little, wingless, greyish-brown insects. When lice hatch, empty eggs called nits are left behind. They come in white, yellow, and brown colours. When they hatch, they are the size of a pinhead, and when they are completely grown, they are 3 mm long.  Head lice feed on blood from the scalp up to 4 times a day.

Head lice are a common problem, particularly among young children, however anyone with hair is vulnerable.

  • Head lice don’t usually cause any symptoms.
  • Some people may develop an itchy scalp due to an allergic reaction to the lice and their droppings.
  • An itchy scalp can be caused by other conditions (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff).
  • The only real way to know if you have head lice is to find a live one on the scalp.
Myths about Headlice
  • Head lice cannot survive more than 2 or 3 days outside of the hair.
  • Head lice cannot fly, jump or swim. They are spread by head-to-head contact. This is why they are particularly common in primary school children.
  • They are not fussy – they like clean or dirty hair – so having head lice is nothing to do with hygiene.
Detection combing

Detection combing can be carried out on wet or dry hair, but works better on wet hair. It should be carried out regularly using a fine-toothed louse detection comb.

It is particularly important to continue combing for two or three days after treatment to ensure the infestation has cleared up and no live lice remain. Many treatments come with a fine-toothed comb in the pack.

Step 1 – Wash hair with ordinary shampoo and apply plenty of conditioner.

Step 2 -Use a wide-toothed comb to straighten and untangle the hair.

Step 3 – Slot the comb into the hair at the roots. Draw the comb down to the ends with each stroke, checking the comb for lice.

Step 4 – Remove any lice by wiping or rinsing the comb. Work through all the hair section by section, until the whole head of hair is combed through.

Don’t forget to check behind the ears, close to the scalp & back of the neck.

What to do if lice are spotted

1. Check the rest of the family.

2. Treat anyone in the family who has live lice at the same time (do not treat ‘just in case’).

3. Alert close friends.

4. Inform the school.

Medicated treatment for Head lice

Newer products contain silicone based products such as dimethicone which act by physically suffocating the lice rather than killing them chemically. It is also thought that less resistance is developed towards these products.

There are a range of lotions, sprays, mousses and shampoos on the market especially within the Hedrin & Lyclear range. Lotions, liquids and mousses should be used in preference to shampoos which get too diluted. Always seek advice from your pharmacist before using medicated head lice treatments in the following groups:

  • young babies (under six months old)
  • pregnant women
  • people with asthma or allergies

Examples of treatment include: Hedrin Once, Hedrin Treat and Go, Lyclear Express Spray, Lyclear Express Shampoo & Lyclear Creme Rinse.

After treatment
  • Examine how well it worked on the hair again two days following the first application
  • Double-check the entire family and treat any members who have lice. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you still discover lice.
  • Even after the treatment, your child can continue to scratch. However this doesn’t mean they have lice, but check your child’s head to be sure. Do not treat again unless you find live lice.

Don’t hesitate to speak to our Pharmacists for advice, or any of our team – they are fully trained to help with any queries regarding available treatments and can recommend a suitable product.