General Information

Head lice have been around for many thousands of years, and anyone can get head lice. As with any insect, they learn to adapt to their environment in order to survive. We are never going to be completely rid of them, but we can make managing them easier.

Head lice are small, wingless, blood sucking insects. Their colour varies from whitish-brown to reddish-brown and they can only survive on humans. Many lice do not cause an itch, so you have to look carefully to find them. Once isolated from the head, head lice die very quickly (usually within 24 hours).

Head lice are found on the hair itself and move to the scalp to feed. They have six legs which end in a claw and they rarely fall from the head. Louse eggs, also called nits, are laid within 1.5 cm of the scalp and are firmly attached to the hair. They resemble dandruff, but can’t be brushed off.

Head lice is spread is through direct hair to hair contact with another person or through hats and other surfaces which contain lice. Head lice cannot jump or fly but they can crawl and do hide.

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What are Head Lice?

Pediculus Humanus Capitis commonly known as Head Lice are insects that feed on human blood. They do not have wings or knees and cannot jump or fly. Adult Lice grow to the size of a sesame seed and vary in colour from light to dark brown.

Who Can Get Head lice?

Anyone with hair can get head lice. Head Lice will attach to dirty or clean hair, they only need hair to hang onto and a blood supply to feed from.

Common Myths About Eggs

Viable (live) eggs are oval, dark in colour and can be very difficult to find. These eggs are located within 1cm of the scalp. They will hatch within 10 days.

Old eggs are also oval, range in colour from yellowy-white to light brown. These eggs shells are usually further down the hair shaft.


No treatment will kill a viable egg. Treatments are only effective after the lice have hatched.

How to Identify Head Lice

The easiest way to identify if Head Lice are present is to perform a conditioning screen.

You will need: 4 sectioning clips, Conditioner, Tail comb, Lice comb, Paper towel and a Bath towel to protect clothes.

Can Treatment Fail?

Hair Lice treatment can fail due to the follow reasons:

1. Resistance

2. Incorrect use of product

3. Follow up treatment completed too soon

Treatment Do's

DO treat if lice are present

DO check ALL family members

DO always read & follow instructions

DO patch test the skin

DO leave treatment on for recommended time only

DO apply treatment thoroughly from roots to ends

DO clean the environment

Treatment Dont’s

DON’T treat if only eggs are found

DON’T treat everyday

DON’T treat broken skin

DON’T use flea products

DON’T use on babies under 6 months old

How To Prevent Head Lice

Screen hair weekly

Tie long hair back

Wear a swimming cap in public swimming pools

Use leave in preventative hair sprays and waxes

Use boiling water or a freezer to kill head lice on the following:

Hairbrushes, combs, hair ties and headbands, bike helmets etc. Place items in a zip lock bag in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours.

Use a clothes dryer for 30mins on HOT for:

Pillows and pillow cases, soft toys, hats, scarves, cushions and covers, throw rugs, doonas and doona covers etc.

Vacuum the following:

Couches, car seats and car seat covers.

Clean under fingernails!