As September draws closer, pharmacists across the country are replenishing their stocks as usually 1-2 weeks into the new school year there’s a mad panic as desperate parents rush in, in droves!! The dreaded head lice have started their rounds and this year maybe particularly bad with the recent mention of the ‘Super Louse’!

Here are a few tips and tricks to get the weary parent prepared as the saying goes ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed’!!

  • A Head louse is a parasite that lives on or among the hair shaft and feeds off blood of the host human. They are usually found behind the ears and neck with itching being one of the main symptoms.
  • It’s hugely important to familiarise yourselves with the lifecycle of the head louse as that knowledge helps in the eradication of the parasite. The eggs/nits are oval yellowish/white and hatch in 7-10 days.
  • Adult lice are around 3mm, have legs and claws which cling to the hair. They are grey white to black in colour and can lay up to 8 eggs per day. They live for about 30 days.
  • Transmission requires head to head contact!!! Lice cannot fly, jump or hop!! Once detached from a human they only live about 24-48 hours. For this reason, it is important to beware of hairbrushes etc. which could possibly cause re-infection!
  • Guidelines state that only those infected with live lice should be treated with insecticides. Use of a lice comb can be used to confirm no one else in the family is affected.



  • Wet combing:  Shampoo hairs, rinse, apply a large amount of conditioner. Brush out. Use the nit combs available to buy in pharmacies and systematically go through the hair from scalp to end of hair removing any eggs/nits or live lice. In total, at least 4 sessions over 2 weeks need to be done. It should be continued until no full-grown lice have been observed for three consecutive sessions. A magnifying glass may be of help when wet combing. Current evidence suggests that wet combing is less effective than the use of insecticides. Buy Here 
  • Hedrin: Apply twice with 7 days between applications (second application is to kill the hatching eggs that survived the initial application). Leave on hair and scalp for 8 hours or overnight and then wash out using shampoo. Use nit comb to remove dead lice and nits. Hedrin is safe for use in pregnancy. Buy Here 
  • Full Marks: Apply twice with 7 days between applications. Leave on for ten minutes. Use nit comb to get rid of the dead lice and nits. Shampoo to remove the solution. Full Marks is not suitable for under 2. Buy Here
  • Lyclear Sprayaway: Apply twice with 7 days between applications. Leave on for 15 minutes Shampoo hair to remove rinse and use nit comb to remove lice and nits. Lyclear Sprayaway is not recommended in under 2, sensitive skin or asthma.   Buy Here 

It is hugely important to confirm that treatment has been successful as it is extremely easy to become re-infected. Good knowledge of the life cycle will help prevent this.

Check by detection combing 2-3 days after completing a course of treatment and again after an interval of 7 days.  If both are clear then the lice have been eradicated.

The following are a few tips on how to prevent head lice in the first place!

  • Keep long hair tied back or if possible in plaits or a bun and use hairspray to keep stray hairs contained.
  • Use tea tree either by adding a few drops to your shampoo or making a spritz by adding a few drops to water in a spray bottle. Citronella is also a useful insect repellent and may be of use.
  • Avoid sharing combs/hair accessories/hats/scarves/towels
  • Remind children to avoid head to head contact

I hope this information has been useful to you. If any queries or any tips yourselves, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Higgins Pharmacy Ann Butler





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