Head Lice: Your Pharmacist’s Advice
Head lice is an itchy condition, affecting many people, in particular children, worldwide. While head lice may cause some mild irritation, thankfully the lice are more of a nuisance and don’t spread bugs that make us sick.
Let’s go through some of the facts and provide you with some helpful Pharmacist advice.
- Head lice are wingless, crawling insects that are mostly spread by head-to-head contact.
- Head lice do not jump, fly or swim. Instead they crawl along strands of hair from one head to another.
- Individual lice cannot live for more than a few hours off the head.
- The adults lay eggs, commonly known as nits, often seen within 1.5 cm off the scalp.
- Nits appear as pale, white specks that do not fall when the hair is shaken.
- Nits typically hatch in about seven days.
- Head lice don’t necessarily have a preference for clean or dirty hair. Short hair isn’t immune from infestation, however long hair means the chances of contact is greater.
- No single treatment kills 100% of eggs. A second treatment is recommended 7-10 days after the initial treatment. Sometimes a third treatment is recommended. In between treatments, remove eggs at least twice by wet combing.
- Ensuring hair is neatly pulled back will dramatically reduce the risk of picking up head lice.
- Only use a head lice product if you find living, moving lice, not just the eggs.
- Head lice products do not prevent head lice and overuse of products can cause scalp irritation and may lead to lice becoming resistant to treatments.
- After using head lice treatments, avoid using a hair dryer to dry the hair. Heat can inactivate the treatment. Dry hair with a towel.
- Itching may continue for one week after the head lice have been killed.
DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.