What are head lice and how do I check for them?

What are head lice?
What are head lice?
Have your say

With the kids back to school, winter colds and stomach bugs aren't your only problem as the itchy scalps start. So what are head lice and how do you check for them?

What are head lice?

Head lice are small insects that live in the hair. They are particularly common among primary school children.

According to the NHS website, they're described as "very small whitish or grey-brown insects that range from the size of a pinhead to the size of a sesame seed".

How do people catch head lice?

Head lice can only be caught through direct head-to-head contact. Lice cannot fly, jump or swim - and contrary to popular opinion do not have a preference towards any specific hair type.

How do I check my child for head lice?

Detection combing is the best way to look for live lice in the hair. Live lice are different to nits, which are egg cases attached to the hair that lice have hatched from.

Comb through your child's hair with a fine toothed comb, looking closely for the lice using the description above to help.

What are other signs of head lice?

If you're struggling to find lice but are still worried that your child may have them, there are other signs you can look out for. These include finding small eggs or egg cases behind the ears/back of the neck or a rash on the back of the neck.

If I find head lice, how do I treat them?

Treatments for head lice are available at local supermarkets and chemists, meaning an appointment with your GP isn't necessary. Lotions, sprays and specialist combs are all options.

How quickly will the lice die?

Once detached from the hair, lice usually die within 12-24 hours.

The Tour de Yorkshire finishes in Scarborough

Plans to bring another major sporting event to Leeds as city vows to carry on with year of culture bid