Families encouraged to think ‘Pharmacy First’ for head lice treatments

Families in North Yorkshire and York are being encouraged to visit their local pharmacy if their child picks up head lice or nits and needs treatment.

Most young people are now back in the classroom after a prolonged period away from school because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With children in close proximity to their friends once more, GPs in North Yorkshire and York say a return to normal is also good news for head lice and nits.

Head lice and nits are very common in young children. They don’t have anything to do with dirty hair and are usually picked up from head-to-head contact.

Dr Tim Rider, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s lead for medicines, said: “Nits are largely harmless but can live in the hair for a long time if not treated and can be irritating and frustrating to deal with.

“If you notice your child has head lice, it’s not necessary to speak to a GP – like many minor ailments and conditions, the advice and treatments you may need are readily available from the expert team at your local pharmacy.”

It is not possible to prevent head lice and nits but they can be removed by wet combing.

If your child gets nits, you should try this method first. You can buy a special fine-toothed comb (detection comb) from pharmacies.

If your child gets head lice you should check everyone in the house and start treating anyone who has head lice on the same day.

Ask your local pharmacy team for advice if you have tried wet combing for 17 days, but your child still has live head lice. They may recommend using medicated lotions and sprays.

There’s no need for children to stay off school or to wash laundry on a hot wash. You can find more information about the treatment of head lice and nits on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/conditions/head-lice-and-nits/