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Five tips to prevent head lice. Let's break the cycle!

  1. Comb and brush your hair everyday with your own comb or brush
  2. Avoid sharing hats
  3. Wear swimming caps at the pool and avoid sharing towels
  4. Wear your long hair tied up
  5. Let an adult check your hair/check the whole family weekly

If you notice your child has head lice:

  • Treat with wet combing or Dimethicone 4% lotion
  • Notify school so that they can tell parents to check their children

See your Public Health Nurse or school office for resources and advice.

For more information:

Further resources

Key messages

Tips for stopping the spread of head lice:

  • Don't share combs, hair brushes, hair ties or clips
  • Don't share hats or helmets
  • Tie up long hair in a ponytail, braid or bun
  • Don't touch heads
  • Don't share headphones
  • Don't share towels
  • If you have an itchy head, tell a grown up

How to treat?

If one member of the household has head lice, you will need to treat all family members in the household.

Wet Combing

This can be effective if done properly as combing damages the egg, preventing it from hatching. If eggs do hatch then daily combing will remove the young lice before they can reproduce.

  • Use lots of conditioner on dry hair to cover the whole scalp and all of the hair from roots to tip. The conditioner will slow down the head lice for approximately 20 minutes so leave the conditioner in the hair.
  • Divide the hair into small sections and comb carefully from the roots to the tip. Use a metal fine-toothed nit comb but remember to wipe the comb clean with a clean tissue in between strokes.
  • Wash out the conditioner after checking the hair carefully.
  • Repeat the combing twice more on consecutive nights and then weekly.

Chemical treatment

Several chemical treatments (insecticides) are available to treat head lice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for effective treatment. The malathion based treatments are subsidised on prescription. Malathion cannot be used on children under six months of age. After using the treatment:

  • Check all members of the household daily for at least three weeks.
  • Comb the hair carefully to remove as many dead or live head lice and eggs as possible, eggs may also be removed using your finger and thumb.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions as some treatments need to be used twice.

For more information

Ministry of Health

Last updated 24 June 2024.