Let’s eradicate the stigma of having NITS & LICE

As it seems a lot of parents are afraid for their kids getting nits & lice at school or nursery as they think this is associated with being dirty and unclean. Well, let’s demystify this misconception and get some facts right.

school letter to parents nits and lice


Nits and lice are at epidemic proportions in the UK. Over half of all 11-14 year olds get them each year. Younger and older siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers and carers also get them.

Head lice are the second most communicable health issue amongst children – the first is the common cold.

We spend £30 million per year on nit and lice shampoos and treatments in this country but 80% of the time lice are immune to them, proven by leading government research.

The average infestation is about 20 lice. During their 30 day life span, the female louse lays between 5 and 10 nits (eggs) each day, so the issue can easily escalate to hundreds, and even thousands.

They suck blood directly from the scalp. Without a meal they will die within 24 – 48 hours.

You need to remove not only all the lice, but all the nits as well to break an infestation. If not the nits hatch, mature, mate, they lay eggs, those eggs mature, hatch and so on. The information out there on how to get rid of nit and head lice is not always that clear

Head lice are genetically programmed to move from one head to another – they are destined to move to someone else in the family or to a friend.

An adult louse can really move it! They can crawl 23 cm in a minute.


53% of people who have them don’t itch and if your child doesn’t itch you probably don’t look. To avoid getting caught out, do a weekly or fortnightly check with a nit comb so you can catch them early.

Many people mistake dandruff etc for nits. The test is to see if you can easily pull what you find off the hair with your fingers. If it won’t come away easily and is glued onto the hair it is more than likely a nit. They are tear drop shaped and are brownish in colour. If it is clear or white in colour then it has already hatched.

If you want to get rid of nits and head lice you need to understand the life cycle which works like this:

• Nits – the eggs – take 7 to 11 days to mature and hatch

• The baby louse takes 9 to 12 days to grow into an adult

• Once an adult it needs to find a mate

• 24 hours after pairing the female lays her first eggs – and then keeps laying them day after day, after day, after day

• Many people find that after clearing their child it’s all back 3 to 4 weeks later and this means they must have re-caught them from someone. However what this usually means is that they weren’t fully cleared in the first place. The lice might have been removed but not all the nits and 3 to 4 weeks later those nits have hatched and matured

• To break this cycle you have to keep clearing both the nits as well as the lice out of the hair day after day

• When the products work they will kill the lice, but they won’t necessarily kill the nits. This is why you have to reapply these products 2 weeks later, to catch anything that has successfully hatched since the last treatment. However it is through overuse and misuse that lice have become immune to these shampoos and treatments and 80% of the time they don’t work at all.


• Best achieved by using a metal nit comb

• Effective checking is not just down to the comb – you need a system to ensure you check the whole head

• Divide the hair into sections and pony tail them to control the task – 8 sections for long hair, more for short

• Then work through each section putting a little conditioner on it and combing thoroughly, cleaning the comb with white toilet paper or tissue as you go

• As you comb ensure the comb touches the scalp

• Comb from the scalp all the way down to the bottom of the hair and out

• Look at the tissue to see if there are any brown or black specks – if they are tear dropped shaped then they are nits (the eggs), if you find lice they have 6 legs and can be tiny

• When you finish a section, re-bunch and move on to the next until you have checked every section thoroughly



Health Line

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Photo credit (school’s letter): ChezMummy via photopin cc

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