Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that live in your hair. They spread by climbing from one head to the next through close contact. Lice are not a result of dirty hair or poor hygiene; any head will do. They live on blood, which they get by biting into your scalp. This can cause itching and irritation, but it is the allergic reaction to the lice that causes the itching, not the lice themselves. The female lays eggs in sacs, which take about seven to 10 days to hatch. A fully-grown louse is around 2 to 4 millimeters long.

Things You'll Need

Wash and condition your hair as normal. Leave the conditioner on, as this prevents the lice from gripping onto the hair and makes it easier to comb out.

Use the wide-toothed comb to untangle the hair.

Take the fine-toothed comb and comb down from the root of the hair, checking the comb after each stroke for any lice. Wash the comb after each comb-through. This step needs to be done thoroughly so that all of the hair has been checked.

Rinse the hair as you would normally to remove the conditioner. Repeat this process every few days for two weeks. You can find more information on The American Head Lice Information Center website (see References).

A medicated lotion is also useful for combating head lice, but nothing is 100 percent effective. These are available from your pharmacist and should only be used if you find a live louse. Once the hair has been treated, it should be checked again a few days later and at regular intervals after that. However, the insecticide may not be capable of killing the eggs and lice, and lice can develop a resistance if the same lotion is used several times. If this is the case, please contact your health care provider. There is no preventative against head lice.


  • Always follow the instructions carefully.

  • Long hair is best tied up in a ponytail to help prevent the transference of lice.