Facts About Head Lice
by Tash Hughes of
Head Lice are
insects that live on human hair and feed on scalp skin.
Lice are very
common across Australia at the moment and are no longer
seen as a shameful thing to catch. Here are some facts
about lice to help families deal with the problem.
- Lice can’t
jump or fly. Lice move
by walking and are only spread between heads when they
are close enough that hairs are touching.
- Sharing hair
brushes, hats, dress ups, combs, hair towels, pillows,
linen and related items can also give lice access to
- Research has
shown that lice actually prefer clean hair, so
washing hair every day will not prevent you catching
lice, and catching lice doesn’t indicate that you
are in any way dirty or unclean.
- Lice lay many
eggs - about 200 in their life span. Removing the live lice is only part of
the job – the eggs need to be taken out or treatment
repeated after 7 days to kill the hatchlings.
- Lice only
live for 24 hours (one day) if they are not in human
hair. Thus it isn’t necessary to boil linen and
clothes to kill the insects. By the time those
items are washed, dried and returned to being worn the
lice will have died. Drying things in sun light will
also kill any lice and other bacteria on the items.
- Some local
councils offer lice treatment lotions for free from
their health departments. Before going there to
collect these lotions, call the council. In some
cases, the council will only give the lotion if you
are accompanied by a child currently infested with
- Finding lice
eggs more than 5 mms from the scalp is ok – eggs that
far from the scalp are either empty or dead as eggs
don’t last long enough for the hair to have grown that
- There are
many species (types) of lice
so any one treatment from a chemist may be more or
less effective in killing each species
- Once a child
has been identified as having lice, they are allowed
back at school/kinder/child care once their hair has
- Children with
long hair are less likely to get lice if their hair is
tied back in a ponytail, or even better, a plait. Soak
the hair ties in tea tree oil or rub in a treatment
lotion to further reduce the risk of catching lice.
- Each louse
lives for about 40 days and feeds on human blood five
times a day.
- Lice can
be present without any itchiness,
so regular checks of school children’s hair is a wise
- If lice are
an issue, prevent scratching being a new problem by
keeping children’s nails cut short and encouraging
them to not scratch. Consider gloves or socks on their
hands at night to stop them scratching in their sleep.
- Tea tree oil
can be added to normal shampoos and conditioners. In
this way, lice may be killed before they can lay eggs
and cause a problem. This doesn’t completely stop lice
attacks, but it may reduce the frequency of them.
- Eggs are laid
3 mm from the scalp and take 9 days to hatch.
- Once you have
treated your child’s hair, it is best to inform their
school or child care centre so that other parents can
check and treat their children before the lice become
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions and is available to solve all
your business writing problems! From letters to
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