Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that generally live on the scalp, where they hide in the hair. They feed on blood and they lay their eggs which often cause severe itching. Head lice don’t spread disease but they are unpleasant, and combating lice can take over your life for a few weeks.
It’s important to remember that if your child does have head lice, it does not mean they are unhygienic – it is very common and can happen to any child.
Schools will often send a note home when another parent advises on the arrival of head lice to their own child, or if the school has noticed a break out in the school.
If you are unsure if your child has head lice, find out how to check for lice. It’s best to make sure that your child does have lice before you begin treatment.
What you need to know:
- Head lice are reddish-brown wingless insects.
- They do not live on pets.
- They feed on human blood 3-4 times daily.
- Head lice can't live off the human host for more than 24 hours.
- Females can lay up to 100 eggs and require just one mating to be fertilised.
- They are able to reproduce in 10 days; live eggs hatch in 7-10 days.
- Head lice are mainly transmitted by head-to-head contact but can also be spread through the sharing of personal articles.
- They can't hop, jump or fly.
If you are sure that your child does have head lice and you wish to treat it, find out how here.
If your child does not have head lice but you know that their friends or class mates have it, you may be wondering if there is a way to prevent your child from catching it. Head lice is spread from head-to-head contact, and unless you plan on standing guard over your child every minute they are in school, there isn’t much you can do. One thing that you can try is putting a few drops of tea tree oil behind your child’s ears and neck. You can also wash their hair with tea tree shampoo and put a couple of drops of the oil in your child’s comb. If the oil irritates your child’s skin, dilute it in a carrier oil such as olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil.