Head lice: Detection & Treatment

With the new school year beginning, your children probably can’t wait to meet up with their old buddies and to make some new friends too. The last thing they—and you—are probably thinking about is head lice. But for up to 10% of elementary school children at any one time,  head lice are going all out to be their new best friends. Head lice are little wingless insects that live only in hair on the human head. They’re more of a nuisance than a serious health risk, but early detection and treatment will make eradicating them easier.

Head lice don’t care how clean a child’s hair is; they’re just looking for a scalp that they can call home. Since head lice are always around, some of them may have hitched a ride home with your child from your holidays.  That’s why the start of each term is a great time to check your child for for the head lice.

What are you looking for?  Tiny nits (eggs) that look like yellow, tan, or brown seeds; they’ll be attached to the hair shaft near the scalp and are especially likely to be found behind the ears or at the nape of the neck.  If you spot them, treat them right away and your children will be able to get right back to having fun at school.

How do children get head lice, and what exactly are they, anyway?

Since head lice can’t jump or fly, they use their hook-like claws to migrate directly from hair to hair, or through shared objects such as hats that have come into contact with hair.  Hair brushes and toys rarely allow for the transfer of head lice.

A head louse develops from an egg (nit) to a larva or nymph (1-2 mm long) and then to an adult (2-3.5 mm long) in about three weeks. The adult louse has about 30 days to lay 150-300 eggs before it dies.

Does my child have head lice?

Is there a lot of head-scratching going on? Lice cause the scalp to be persistently itchy, because several times a day lice inject their anticoagulant saliva to help them suck blood from the scalp.  Eventually, red bumps may appear as your child’s immune system reacts to the bites. Bacteria may also be introduced to the scalp as your child scratches, resulting in infection.

How can I get rid of head lice?

Nitview® Ledcomb

First, you’ll want to confirm that lice are present.  Nits and lice can be hard to see, but to help you spot and remove them from you child’s scalp as well as from clothing, towels, and bed linen, you can use a tool like the Nitview LED Lice Detection Device. This product uses UV light and a detachable comb to help you locate and get rid of lice.

Then you’ll want to treat your child’s scalp to eradicate the head lice.  Options include the following Various over-the-counter lice treatments.

Speak with a London Drugs pharmacist to help you find the most suitable solution for your family.

Prescription options: Speak with your doctor if over-the-counter products do not work.