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Know Your Lice

Lice are small, wingless insects that live, breed and feed on the human scalp. They don't carry or transmit disease but require direct contact to transfer from person to person. Outbreaks can be controlled when parents regularly check their child’s hair for lice and implement treatment strategies.

It’s estimated that in a single year, about 1 in 4 children become infested with headlice.

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Headlice (Louse)

  • Lice are small insects 2-3mm long, wingless and have a claw at the end of each of its six legs. These claws enable the lice to grasp and climb in hair. The body is flat and long and varies in colour from cream to brown.

  • Lice feed on blood, piercing the scalp several times a day.

  • Nymphs (young lice) take about a week to reach maturity, and live for another 2-3 weeks.

  • Each female can lay up to eight eggs a day, that’s over 150 eggs during a life cycle.


Nits (Eggs)

  • Nits are tiny, hard yellow to white in colour and are attached firmly to the hair shaft close to the scalp.

  • Nits are most often found in the hair behind the ears, but can also be found at the nape of the neck, around the crown and under fringes.

  • Nits hatch as nymphs after 7-10 days.

  • Nits are probably hatched or dead if more than 1-2 cm from the scalp.

  • Nits may have a ‘sandy’ or gritty feel when running fingers through the hair.

  • Nits are easier to see than headlice but can be confused with dandruff which is flaky and easy to remove.


Home Cleaning


Home cleaning during a lice infestation is paramount. It's possible for lice to live temporarily on items such as bedding, couches, hair accessories, car seats, toys and clothing. Lice can survive 24 - 48 hours off of the human head, so are relatively easy to remove from the home.

The Bottom Line


  • Lice can only live on human heads.

  • Lice crawl and can not fly, jump or hop.

  • Lice can live in clean or dirty hair.

  • Lice are transferred mainly by direct head-to-head contact, rarely by brushes, combs, ribbons or hats.

  • Lice do not carry disease, but bacterial infections can occur from scratching the scalp.

  • Successful treatment does not protect the person from contracting lice again.




  • Advise your childcare, kindergarten or school of the infestation so parents can be notified to take action.

  • Tie hair back in a ponytail, braid or bun and check weekly for lice, using the conditioner and comb method, this can help prevent the spread.

  • Don't share hats, bicycle helmets or hairbrushes.

  • Spray hats with Lice Prevention Spray and ensure hats are kept separate from other childrens hats.

  • Use a little hairspray to keep stray hairs contained.

  • Family and close contacts should be inspected for signs of infestation and treated if lice are detected (a contact is any person who has been close enough to an infected person to be at risk of having contracted headlice from that person).

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