8.5 x 11 head licefact sheet
Head lice are a nuisance, but not a health hazard. Anyone can get head lice. People do not get head lice because they are not clean.
Children often get lice because they are frequently in head-to-head contact with other children. Lice can be easily passed from childto child, child to adult, adult to adult.
WHAT TO LOOK FORHead lice are tiny, flat insects.They cannot jump or fly, but they can crawl quickly.They are 1-2 mm long, greyish-white in colour, andhard tosee.
An adult female louse (adult lice) can lay hundreds of eggs.The very tiny eggs, called nits, are half the size of a pinhead.They look likedandruff, and are firmly glued to the hair close to the scalp and cannot be flicked off. Head lice do not live long and their eggs hatchnear the warm scalp in 7 to 10 days.
Itching and scratching are common signs of head lice, however there may be no symptoms at all. Since other scalp conditions alsocause itching, the best way to check for lice is to look for nits. If you find nits, act quickly.
If you find lice or nits a Pharmaceutical treatment shampoo or creme rinse is the most proven method for getting rid of lice.
The most important step towards successful treatment is to REMOVE ALL THE NITS. It is not necessary to treat someone just
because they have been exposed to lice. Treat only those people who actually have live lice.
Lice treatment shampoos or creme rinses can be purchased
Permethrin (e.g. Kwellada-P® Creme Rinse and NIX™
at the drug store without a prescription from a doctor. In
Creme Rinse) should not be used on a person with a known
most provinces these products are available directly from
allergy to chrysanthemums, synthetic pyrethroids, or
your pharmacist. It is important to speak to your Pharmacist
Do not use on children under age 2 unless directed by a
1. Consult with your doctor regarding treatment:
• of children under age 2.
• of persons with seizure disorders.
• for lice on eyebrows, eyelashes or beards.
• if the skin of the scalp is broken or infected.
• Follow lice treatment instructions exactly, some products
• of persons with asthma, allergies or cancer.
are applied to dry hair, others to wet.
• of persons who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
• Timing is important. If the product is rinsed off too soon,
lice and eggs may not be killed. If left on too long, you are
You can also call Motherisk at the Hospital for Sick Children at
causing unnecessary chemical exposure.
• Rinse the child's hair under a tap (instead of the shower
or bathtub) to limit skin exposure and prevent the childfrom swallowing the product.
2. When Choosing a product, read the list of contents.
• These products should not be used near the eyes, nose or
mouth. Hold a towel tightly over the eyes to protect them
Do not use a product if the person being treated is
allergic to any of listed ingredients. Follow the directions
• When treating another person wear plastic or rubber
• Store unused head lice products in a safe area away from
Pyrethrins with synergized piperonyl butoxide (e.g. R&C™
Shampoo+Conditioner) should not be used for anyone with a known allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, syntheticpyrethroids, or pyrethrin.
HEAD LICE - Fact sheet (Continued)
• Head lice products kill the head lice and many of the eggs.
One treatment usually does not kill all the eggs. Apply asecond treatment in 7 to 10 days to kill any newly
Close contacts may include family members, grandparents,
hatched lice before they can lay eggs. Repeat the
close friends, neighbours, or babysitters. Close contacts and
family members should be checked and treated if infested.
Tell your child's school or childcare centre so other parents
• Remove ALL the nits and remember to check the head
can be told to check their children's heads. If close contacts
have lice ensure that they are treated at the same time sothey do not pass the lice back to you or your child leading
If head lice persist following two treatments and
reinfestation has been ruled out consult your physician or local pharmacist.
When you are treating for lice you need to wash combs and
Home remedies or frequent washing with regular shampoo
brushes, head gear, hats, jackets, pillowcases, sheets, and
are not effective in getting rid of head lice. As with all lice
towels with hot water. The heat of the water and/or the hot
treatments, remember to remove all nits (see Removal of
cycle of your clothes dryer will kill any live lice or nits. Any
items, which cannot be washed, should be placed in a plasticbag and sealed for 2 weeks.
• Do not leave child unattended with a shower cap or
• Do not leave the shower cap or saran wrap on while
An untreated person among close contacts can pass lice
• Do not use vinegar on the scalp if it is already irritated.
• Head lice do not live on dogs, cats or other animals, only
• The removal of all nits will take several hours.
• Keeping hair short will not prevent head lice.
• Have your child sit in a comfortable chair and find an
activity to occupy them (e.g. watching a movie)
• Check young school age children regularly for head lice
• Work in bright, natural light to help see the nits.
• Comb the wet hair with a regular comb to remove tangles.
• Divide the hair into sections and pin back the sections not
• Discourage children from sharing hats, scarves, combs, hair
being worked on, like a hairdresser does.
• Use your thumbnail against your first finger to strip the
nits from the hair. Start at the root of the strand of hairand pull out to the end of the strand of hair.
• Place the nits in a bag or a cup of water.
• Remove all nits from the strand of hair.
• As an alternative, you can comb out the nits using a
special comb for removing nits (i.e. comb teeth are lessthan 0.3 mm apart.This is easier following treatment witha lice product.
• Continue until all nits are removed.
• Check the hair each day. If you find additional nits (3-5 per
day) this may be a sign that live lice are still on the head.
• Be sure to pay close attention to the back of the neck and
behind the ears (lice like these areas because it is warm).
For more information please visit
www.liceguide.com or www.lice.ca or contact your local Public Health Department.
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