Head lice

Group of children at schoolHead lice are small insects that live on the scalp and lay eggs (nits) on the hair. Lice and nits cause an itchy scalp.

Head lice are common in children and their families. Medicated treatments to kill lice and nits are available from most chemists.

Head lice treatments may not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, babies less than 12 months old or people who have allergies, open wounds on the scalp or asthma. If someone in your family has head lice, please contact your local chemist or doctor for advice on the most appropriate treatments.

What to do

  • Treat all family members if one member of the family has head lice, whether or not nits or lice are present.
  • Carefully read and follow the manufacturer's advice on using their product.
  • Wear rubber gloves when applying head lice treatments.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist about safe head lice treatments to use if you are pregnant, or have sensitive skin, or for children less than 12 months of age.
  • Keep head lice treatments out of reach of children as the treatments are toxic, but safe if used according to the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Prevent head lice treatment from getting into the eyes.
  • Avoid using a hairdryer following application of the treatment as heat may de-activate the product. 

More resources

For more information on how to identify and treat head lice, visit the Better Health Channel website.

Further information
Health Protection Unit
9205 5166

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