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4 Sep 2019

Parents play the blame game when it comes to head lice and nits

Does your child repeatedly pick up nits and head lice? Parents think they know why

70% of parents believe their child getting reinfected with nits and head lice is the fault of other parents.

We surveyed 2,155 parents who have a child aged less than 12 and had used a lice treatment, and asked them whether their child had caught head lice twice within the space of three weeks. More than a third (35%) said they had.

Seven in 10 of those parents believe it could be because their child is being reinfected by their classmates, who either haven't been treated or haven't been treated effectively.

See the best nit and head lice treatments ranked by parents.

Only 22% of parents thought it might be because they didn't apply the treatment properly, while 16% thought it might be because they didn't repeat the treatment to ensure all lice and eggs were killed.

Professor James Logan from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, an expert in head lice and other arthropods, says:

'It may seem easy to blame repeated cases of head lice in your children on their classmates at school, but it's just as possible that a few straggler head lice or eggs were missed or not killed during treatment.

'Remember, head lice eggs hatch about a week after being laid, and adult lice can live for up to 30 days on a person's head, with the female adults laying up to eight eggs a day. So while you may not have spotted any live lice after treatment, you might have missed some eggs.

'It's why a second check and treatment a week later is so vital.'

How to treat head lice effectively

Head lice and nits are very common - when we asked 2,180 parents whether their child (aged 12 or under) had had head lice in the last two years, 45% said they had.

According to our survey, they're most commonly caught between the ages of four and six, but they can affect people of any age (including parents) and any gender.

To ensure you get rid of head lice for good, there are some key steps to remember:

  • Follow the instructions for the product, particularly with regards to how long to leave the treatment on the head in order to kill the lice.
  • Carry out a repeat check-up and, if possible, repeat treatment seven days after the first.
  • Schedule in regular nit check-ups each month, whether or not you've had lice letters or your child is scratching, to catch an infestation before it takes hold.
  • The nit comb and conditioner method is a very good method for regular check-ups - watch our video on how to carry this out

Think you know everything there is to know about nits? Think again! Read: Nits and head lice: separating fact from fiction.