School Nursing


Head lice are small insects about the size of a sesame seed when fully grown. The head louse lays eggs close to the scalp. When they hatch, the egg cases that are left behind are white; these are called “nits”.

Nits can be mistaken for dandruff, but they stick to the hair and can be difficult to remove. Head lice are passed from head to head from close contact; they do not jump or live in clothes or soft furnishings. They do not live very long once away from the hair.

Head lice are commonly found in children’s hair, but they can affect any age. Often they are passed on by other family members that do not know they have them.

Symptoms are itching and the scalp can become sore due to an allergy to the lice. The lice are hard to see so detection by the school nurse would be unreliable. Parents/carers are often the best people to spot them.The regular head lice checks that used to be carried out by school nurses, did not make any difference to the amount of head lice in the school population. To check if you have head lice use the wet hair method as described in the section below.

Treatment is only required if live head lice are found, there is no need to treat all family members if head lice are not detected. Regular wet combing can help with early detection and treatment can be given promptly before spread to others. The use of preventative lotions and sprays are not proven to be effective in the prevention of head lice.


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