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These small pests are known as nits or head lice and are small insects, usually gray or brown in color, the size of a match head, and are transferred from head to head by close contact. Nits are the eggs. Head Lice cannot fly, jump or swim, but crawl as any insect does. They are not selective in their hosts, they simply need hair to attach their eggs to, these will grow and hatch in the warmth of the scalp and they feed by sucking blood through the scalp.The eggs take 7-10 days to hatch, and just a little longer to reach maturity and start laying themselves.


There are two main methods to treat or eradicate this problem. The first is called the 'Wet combing method'. Firstly hair is washed in the normal way, then using lots of conditioner and a fine tooth comb (special combs can be bought from the chemists), making sure the teeth of the comb is slotted over the base of the roots of the hair, stroke the comb along the length of the hair and do this over a paper towel or pale surface. Clean the comb of lice between each stroke. Repeat this, section by section over the entire head, especially behind the ears and nape of the neck. Wet lice find it difficult to escape and cannot grip the hair easily because of the effect of the conditioner.

It is important to repeat this every 3 - 4 days for at least 14 days to allow for any eggs to hatch and be removed in the meantime. This method of treatment is harmless to humans and can be done safely on babies.

The second method requires using a special shampoo obtained from the chemist. It will contain certain chemicals specially formulated to kill the lice and their eggs quickly and safely. The formula changes from time to time so that the lice do not build up a resistance to it. Follow the instructions given with the shampoo.

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