What are lice?
Head lice, sometimes just called lice, are small creatures that live in the hair, close to the scalp. They are small and therefore hard to see. Lice do not usually have a colour, but they may be grey, brown, black or red.
Lice suck blood and lay eggs that are small, round and white. Lice thrive where it is warm, such as in hair that is over 3 centimetres long.
How are lice spread?
Lice are spread between people by one person's hair coming into direct contact with another person's hair. It does not matter if you are clean or dirty. Anyone with hair on their head can get lice.
Lice cannot fly or jump, so there is no need to wash items like bedding, towels or toys. Lice can, however, be spread from hair through combs and brushes. So, these need to be cleaned.
How do I know if I have lice?
You can tell that you have lice because your hair will be itchy. It usually itches the most around your neck and on the sides of your head. If you look closely, you may be able to see the lice eggs.
You can also check your pillow. You might see a black powder there if you have lice.
Comb your hair with a lice comb
The easiest way to check for head lice is to comb your hair with a lice comb. You can buy a lice comb at any pharmacy.
Follow these steps:
- Sit down at a table.
- Place a sheet of white paper in front of you.
- Carefully comb all of your hair over the paper.
- Check the paper to see if there are any lice.
Follow these steps when using a lice comb on someone else’s hair
It is usually easier to comb someone else's hair than to comb your own.
1. Starting from the back, comb the hair to the sides.
2. Then comb on top of the head.
3. Comb the hair from the forehead to the neck.
4. Comb from the neck to the forehead.
How do I get rid of lice?
You can get rid of lice by treating your head lice at home. Start by combing with a lice comb. Then treat your hair and scalp with a lice treatment product, which is available from any pharmacy. Repeat the treatment after seven days.
A lice treatment product can be used on anyone over the age of two. Please contact a healthcare centre before treating a child who is younger than two.
Everyone who lives in the same house must be treated at the same time. Avoid hair-to-hair contact until everyone’s hair has been treated for the second and final time. Otherwise, there is a risk that the lice will spread again.
If you have trouble combing your hair
If you have very curly or thick hair, it may be hard to run a comb all the way through it. In such cases, you can start off by putting conditioner in your hair and then combing a small area at a time using a regular comb or brush. After this, you can use the lice comb.
How do I avoid getting lice again?
Keep combing your hair thoroughly for two weeks after the treatment. Comb your hair at least twice a week.
Lice are most commonly spread during the summer. It is therefore important to use a lice comb and treat children who have live head lice before the autumn semester starts.
Even if you get rid of the lice, you can get lice again. If you learn that there is a case of lice at your children's preschool or school, comb both your own hair and your children's hair with a lice comb immediately. The earlier you find the lice, the easier it is to get rid of them.