Head lice

Pediculus humanis capitis

Some estimates place the prevalence of head lice in Australian primary schools at greater than 50%.

Contrary to popular myth, lice appear to prefer clean hair. Girls are more likely targets than boys because their hair is generally longer and they associate more closely during play, allowing head-to-head transmission.

Head lice are becoming resistant to the chemical treatments that have been used in the past. It is now recommended to physically remove head lice and their eggs (nits) using hair conditioner and a fine comb.

"I’m feeling lousy!" "He’s a nit-picker!" Going through it with a fine-tooth comb!" These are all phrases which have become common in our language and provide evidence of just how long humanity has been struggling against the humble louse.

For further information visit Queensland Health's Understanding Headlice Management.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.