Head lice

HEAD LICE

Please check your child’s hair on a regular basis. Head lice cause children great discomfort and embarrassment.

Which Guide on choosing head lice and nit treatments

How to get rid of head lice and nits

Treatments to get rid of head lice are available to buy from pharmacies, supermarkets and online. You don’t usually need to see your GP.

The main treatments are:

  • lotions or sprays that kill head lice – these can be very effective, but some aren’t suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or for children under two
  • removing head lice with a specially designed comb – this is suitable for everyone and relatively inexpensive, but needs to be repeated several times and can take a long time to do thoroughly

A pharmacist can advise you about the treatments available if you’re not sure which is best for you or your child.

Make sure you carefully follow the instructions that come with the treatment you choose.

How you get head lice

Head lice are spread by direct head to head contact. They climb from one person’s hair to another’s.

Head lice:

  • can’t fly, jump or swim
  • are very unlikely to be spread by objects such as hats, combs and pillows
  • don’t have a preference for dirty, clean, short or long hair
  • only affect people and can’t be caught from animals

Once detached from the hair, head lice will usually die within 12-24 hours.

Preventing head lice

It’s very difficult to prevent head lice. You may want to consider regular detection combing – for example, on a weekly basis – if you’re concerned about your children or yourself.

Lotions and sprays don’t prevent head lice and should only be used if a live louse has been found in your or your child’s hair.

Staying off work or school and washing clothing and bedding on a hot wash is unnecessary, as it’s unlikely to help prevent the spread of head lice.

Minor ailment services Some pharmacies run a minor ailment scheme, which means they can supply medicines for certain conditions (including Head lice) on the NHS.

If your pharmacy runs a minor ailment scheme that includes eczema, for example, it means your pharmacist can supply medicines for this condition and you’ll only pay the standard prescription charge.

If you’re exempt from paying prescription charges – because you’re under 16 or over 60, for example, or you have a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – you won’t pay for the medicine. Just ask at your local pharmacy.

Parents

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