About Head Lice

Head lice, often just referred to as ‘lice’, are a species of parasitic insect that feeds by sucking blood from the human scalp. Adult head lice are between 2 and 3 mm long, while newly hatched head lice can be less than 1 mm. Head lice can vary in colour from transparent grey-white to dark, but are easily recognised by their flat and elongated body.

Head lice are most commonly seen in children aged 3-10 years, and more frequently in long-haired children – however, it should be noted that the cleanliness of the hair is irrelevant. Head lice live exclusively in the hair and are transmitted by head-to-head contact. As children often play close together, they are, as a group, more prone to infection.

Head lice are most commonly detected through itching and irritation of the scalp. This is due to an allergic reaction to the substance the head lice secretes when sucking blood from the scalp.

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How do You Remove Head Lice?

Head lice take time to treat, but the process itself is easy enough. It just requires a little patience. If you comb correctly and thoroughly with the right head lice comb, you can get rid of head lice within 14 days. Procedure:

1. Wet the hair

Wet the hair and/or apply conditioner. This prevents the head lice from moving around too much.

2. Brush the hair

Brush hair well with a regular brush before combing so that the head lice comb is able to glide easily without getting stuck in the hair.

3. Use a correct head lice comb

Next, use a correct head lice comb. For short and fine hair, a classic head lice comb is recommended, and for long, thick or curly hair, use a head lice comb with long metal teeth.

4. Combing

Comb one section of hair at a time from scalp to tip and wipe the head lice comb with a white paper towel after each section so you can see if there are any more head lice.

5. Continue

Continue combing until you find no more head lice. Go through the entire hair at least 3 times. Remember to check behind the ears and in the neck.

6. Repeat

Continue combing until you find no more head lice. If possible, go over the entire head at least 3 times. Remember to check behind the ears and at the nape of the neck.

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Other Tips for Treating Head Lice

  • Avoid sharing a comb or brush with someone who has head lice.
  • Combine combing with a proven head lice repellent if necessary.

  • Make sure to inform the child’s childcare centre and other close contacts so that they can also be checked for head lice.

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How Do You Prevent Head Lice?

As head lice are transmitted through head-to-head contact, it can be difficult to prevent. However, infestation can be minimised if hair is regularly checked with a proper head lice comb and treatment is started quickly.

If you find head lice on your child, you should notify the school, institution and social circle in order to limit the infestation. Remember that everyone in close contact with the child should be examined and treated (including you as parents).