Head lice can be a royal pain, especially only a week back into school, but here is how to treat them.

What are they?

Head lice (nits) are insects up to 3mm long and can be very difficult to spot. You might be able to see them moving around or you might spot nit eggs. The eggs can be yellow, brown or white and they attach themselves to the hair.

How to spot them?

You will probably be able to feel if you have nits. You might have a very itchy head or be able to feel movement in your hair. The only real way to spot them is to use a special comb that catches the head lice. You can buy these combs online and in most pharmacies.

How do you treat them?

You do not need to visit your GP to deal with head lice, you can do it yourself at home. You can use medicated lotions and sprays that kill head lice in all types of hair. You can buy these from pharmacies, supermarkets or online. You can then use the detection comb to remove dead lice and eggs.

Combing is effective in both wet and dry hair but wet combing is more accurate because lice remain motionless when damp.

The lice should die within a day but some treatments may need repeating after a week.

There are some treatments that are unlikely to work and these include products containing permethrin, head lice 'repellents', electric head lice combs and tree and plant oil treatments.

Are there any non-chemical treatments?

If you are not keen on using chemicals you can buy a detection comb. The process will usually be easier with wet hair that has been conditioned. You can then comb the whole head of hair from roots to ends and repeat this every few days for a couple of weeks.

What else do you need to know?

You cannot prevent getting nits. The only way to possibly stop infestation is to avoid making close contact with other people's heads.

Children do not need to stay home from school if they have nits. And you should not use medicated head lice spray to prevent nits, this will only irritate your child’s scalp.

Just because you have an itchy head does not necessarily mean you have head lice, you need to find lice to properly diagnose.