Schools are back and so are head lice, warn pharmacists

2 September 2019: Schools aren’t the only thing that will make an unwelcome return for Irish children this month. According to pharmacists, head lice rates are set to increase as we hit the annual ‘headlice season’.  The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has issued advice to families about how to avoid head lice.

IPU spokesperson and community pharmacist Tomás Conefrey said, “Eliminating the risks of head lice is not always possible and it is estimated that 1 in 10 children will suffer from head lice at some stage, with 80% of head lice infestations occurring in children between the ages of four and 16. However, identifying an infection early makes treating it far easier and prevents the spread of infection through the classroom or among a family.”

“Headlice infections are most common among children of school-going age (4 to 12). Therefore, our advice to parents is to check their children’s hair regularly, ideally once a week.

“While some may feel there is a stigma associated with lice it really is nothing to be embarrassed about; if an infection is detected parents should seek advice as early as possible. There is a range of treatment options available and you should speak to your pharmacist about which is the most appropriate for your child. This is particularly important for any child suffering from asthma, allergies or have a pre-existing skin condition as they are the most likely to suffer a reaction.”


Head Lice – Advice from Pharmacists:

  1. Check children’s hair for lice regularly, ideally once a week. Use a wet comb made for the purpose. Combing through wet hair makes the process easier. Good light is important.
  2. Itching and scratching are common signs of head lice. As well as live lice, which crawl around the head, look out for nits which are tiny eggs that may look like dandruff but cannot be flicked off the hair.
  3. Check close to the scalp, behind the ears, around the nape of the neck, top of the head and under the fringe.
  4. Treat the hair only if live lice or unhatched eggs are present. Treat the child as soon as possible. Always ask your pharmacist for advice on the most appropriate treatment to use.
  5. Inform the school, contacts and friends when your child has head lice. The school can then inform other parents that there is an outbreak, so everyone can check and treat their own children.
  6. Always follow the instructions on the treatment pack and any advice given by your pharmacist. Products used to treat head lice do not prevent the infestation from occurring and should never be used “just in case”.



For further information contact: Jim Curran, Director of Communications and Strategy, IPU, 086 264 0469