Head Lice Information for Parents

Anyone can get head lice. It has nothing to do with clean or dirty hair, or the cleanliness of your home. Head lice do not spread disease but can cause a lot of frustration.

You may notice signs that your child might have head lice such as itching, complaining of a tickling feeling in the hair or sores on the scalp due to scratching.

Or, you may get a call from school letting you know that your child has been checked and has head lice.

How to Check for Head Lice

Areas to check for head lice

Lice are tiny grey/brown insects that crawl quickly but cannot jump or fly. Finding them can be difficult, and you might only find eggs glued to the hair shaft.

Use a bright light and look for lice at forehead, crown, around ears, and nape of the neck.

The best way to check for head lice is to look for them in hair that has been soaked with conditioner. If there are head lice, the conditioner will slow them down making them easier to find. This is called the wet combing method.

If you find lice:

  • Check all the people that live in your house, including yourself
  • Tell those that have been in contact with your child such as relatives and babysitters so that they can be checked for lice
  • Inform the school so that classmates can be checked

Treatment Options

Only treat those who have live head lice. Everyone in the home with lice needs to be treated at the same time or the lice will spread back from an untreated person.

If you have already used a head lice product in the last few days, speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about what to do next.

Wet Combing

Areas to check for head lice
  1. Seat your child near a sink with good lighting. Cover his or her shoulders with a towel.
  2. Soak hair in conditioner and use a wide-tooth comb to untangle hair
  3. Divide hair into small sections. Use hair clips to keep hair in sections
  4. Using a lice comb (available at a pharmacy), place the comb at the scalp and comb through the same section of hair several times
  5. Rinse the comb in the sink and repeat until all hair has been combed
  6. Repeat the web combing method every four days for two weeks to break the cycle of head lice.

Other Treatment Options

Treatment products do not prevent lice and should be used only on those who have head lice. Talk to a health professional about products and methods available, and:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • About asthma or allergies to product ingredients
  • If child is under two years
  • If a person has a seizure disorder
  • If the skin of the scalp is broken
  • If head lice return

Cleaning

  • Wash clothes, towels, bedding used in the last three days in hot, soapy water. Dry at high temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Soak combs and brushes in hot, soapy water for 10-20 minutes
  • Clean your home - vacuum carpets, furniture and car seats. Sprays are not necessary.

How to Prevent Head Lice

  • Check for head lice every week
  • Remind your children to avoid head to head contact and to not share hats, combs, brushes, scarves and other items used on the head

Learn more about head lice from the Canadian Paediatric Society or call the Parent Talk Line and speak to a nurse at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7555.


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