Head lice

​Over the past few years, the prevalence of head lice in children has increased. Although it is a common belief, head lice are not a sign of poor hygiene. Head lice spread among children directly from head to head or indirectly through combs and hats, for example. Head lice occur in day care centres and schools, especially in the autumn when the weather becomes cooler and children start wearing hats.

Adult lice are flat, whitish-grey insects measuring 2 to 4 mm. They live close to the scalp, feed on blood and lay their tan eggs (nits) in hair. Nits can typically be found in the hair above the ears and in the neck. They stick tightly to hair and cannot be removed by shaking your head. Adult lice can survive only 1 day away from the scalp.

Symptoms

  • itchy scalp
  • scratching the itch
  • infections of broken skin

 

Treatment

 

Head lice are treated with lice shampoo available in pharmacies. Treatment is repeated after two weeks. Use a fine-tooth comb to remove the nits. Wash bedding and clothes. If there are hats that cannot be washed, lice can be destroyed by keeping the hats in a freezer overnight. If someone in the house has head lice, check the scalp and hair of all family members and treat, if necessary.

How to prevent head lice

 

To prevent head lice infection, hats should be stored in the sleeve of a coat, for example, and children are advised not to share combs/hairbrushes and to avoid hair-to-hair contact. Lice do not jump from one head to the next. Hence, sitting next to others is not a risk. Inform the school nurse or day care personnel if you have discovered head lice. Head lice are specific to humans. Therefore, your pets are not at risk.