Head lice

Mention head lice and most of us instantly develop an itch. You'll find these little critters at every school across Australia – and probably the world – at some point during the year. While head lice and nits, (the eggs of head lice) are certainly annoying and persistent, they're not dangerous.

At a glance

  • Head lice and nits only live on human heads.
  • They don't care if the hair is long or short, clean or dirty.
  • Head lice are an unavoidable fact of life for all school-aged kids.
  • The best and cheapest way to remove them is with inexpensive conditioner and a nit comb.
  • You will need to re-treat your child several times before all the eggs will be gone.

Nitbusters' myth busters

  • Kids with head lice don't always scratch. The only way to rule out infestation is to look carefully through your child's hair.
  • Head lice are only found on the human head.
  • Head lice and nits live in long, short, curly, straight, clean or dirty hair.
  • They are not found on family pets.
  • Shaving your child's head is radical and unnecessary!
  • Head lice do not live on furniture, hats, bedding, carpet or anywhere else in the environment.
  • Head lice don't leap or jump. They crawl from hair to hair, from one head to another.
  • Treating anything other than the human head does not get rid of head lice.
  • There is no way to prevent your child from getting head lice.
  • You may be able to help reduce transmission by tying girls' hair back and braiding it.
  • Never use insecticides, methylated spirits or kerosene on your child's head.
  • Some essential oils, including tea tree oil, can trigger a reaction in some people. Tea tree oil is a proven antiseptic, but its effectiveness as a head lice treatment has not been demonstrated.
  • You don't need to use an expensive commercial product.
  • If you do decide to use a commercial treatment on your child's head, read the instructions very carefully.

For strategies to prevent head lice, please click on the link below.