Health Information

Head Lice Information


What are Head Lice? Head lice are tiny insect parasites that live on the human head, feeding on the scalp several times a day. Head lice reproduce by laying their eggs (nits) on the hair shaft close to the scalp. They are not dangerous, don't carry diseases and are not a sign of poor hygiene.

How are head lice spread? Head lice are spread by head-to-head contact with another person who has head lice, e.g. when doing group work at school, playing, or hugging. Head lice can run form one head to another in seconds. Head lice cannot fly, jump or swim, but they can sometimes 'trapeze' from one hair to another. Brushes and combs are unlikely to transfer head lice and do not transfer viable eggs, as these are very hard to detach from the hair shaft. Head lice are not spread through bed linen, clothing or head gear, as they do not leave the scalp unless they are dead or dying. Eggs (nits) do not fall off until weeks after they have hatched as the egg shells are glued tightly to the hair shaft.

How do I look for head lice?

  • Dry head checks are unreliable, due to the speed at which head lice move.
  • Saturate dry hair with hair conditioner, then comb in sections with a metal fine-tooth 'nit' comb. Wipe the comb on a white paper towel and examine them with a strong light or magnifying glass to look for head lice and eggs.

What do I do if I find head lice?

  • Check all household members (use hair conditioner).
  • Choose one of the treatments from the Department of

Health's Fact Sheet (10 day hair conditioner treatment or insecticide treatment)

  • Inform the class teacher or nurse and inform any other contacts.
  • Parent/guardian of child with head lice will be given confirmation of treatment form to complete and return
  • Parents/Guardians will be emailed when head lice is reported from a class.
  • When treatment is completed. Check the hair regularly, e.g. weekly, for any further head lice infestation.
  • Early treatment can prevent spread to further close contacts.
  • For further information go to


Jenny Hill - College Nurse