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Lice Questions: Straight-Forward Answers

Not sure if your child has lice? Too much conflicting information on the web? These are straight-forward answers to those basic questions.

Recently many people who I have been speaking to – School nurses, Social workers, Day Care Centers, School staff and administrators – have had questions about head lice detection, prevention and treatment.

There really is so much misinformation out there and the question many people ask is: who is correct?  Well after many years of hands on education and research to support working with families and individuals, I have some of the most frequently asked questions answered.   

The most often asked question is How do I check For Head Lice?  

 First off some tools to make the job easier and more effective

  • Excellent light (natural light, if possible – outdoors, close to a south facing window or the best light you can find in your home otherwise)
  • A magnifying glass, magnifying/reading glasses and/or a microscope (the toy you have tucked in the closet might even do the trick)
  • A comb or brush to completely detangle the hair and a comb to section the hair for those with very thick and/or long hair (and in this case, some clips might be helpful too to hold the hair up in sections)
  • A leading head lice comb. This IS NOT a plastic comb that comes in with some of the over the counter kits and it is not even the two sided red-handled metal comb that is sold separately by one of the manufacturers of the kits. You need a stainless steel head lice comb like our Meticulice Ultimate Lice Fighter Comb. This item is one of the best tools you can have in your medicine cabinet. 
  • A spray bottle of water (detangler spray or a spray bottle filled with water and a small amount of conditioner to help remove tangles on thick or curly hair) these will aid in combing through the hair.

Tools are collected now we move on to how to check the head:

  • Go to a well lit area; this can be outside
  • Use your detangler comb or brush to completely detangle the hair.
  • Then, part your child’s hair and using the magnifying glass or another type of magnification, look at the areas we like to call the  five “hot spots” – behind the ears, at the nape of the neck, above the forehead and at the crown these are warm areas on the head where fertilized female head lice like to lay their eggs.  Look for tiny poppy-seed sized eggs, stuck to the hair shaft; you will need to use your fingernails to loosen them they are and generally close to the scalp.  They’re usually in quarter-sized clusters.  They can be dark in color or light in color but in general, viable nits are plump and darkish especially on dark hair.  Similar to small size sesame seeds. If you can dislodge something on the hair shaft or scalp with a flick of the fingernail or by blowing on it, it’s not a head lice nit.
  • If nothing is found, spray the hair with the water or a combination of water and diluted conditioner.  Wet the hair .  Detangle again with a detangler comb or brush to remove all knots.
  • With the Meticulice Ultimate Lice Fighting Comb start combing – from the scalp to the ends of the hair.  The individual being combed shouldmay feel the comb this is fine and normal.  After three or four combings through the hair with the lice comb, wipe the comb on both sides on a piece of white paper towel or a white tissue.  Bugs and nits will be evident.  Be methodical.  Continue doing this, multi-directionally nits can be anywhere on the hair shaft so you need to comb from underneath and from the sides until you’ve lice combed the entire head.   With long/thick hair, you might want to use clips to separate areas you’ve already combed.
  • If you perform a thorough lice combing on the entire head and find nothing, it’s highly unlikely that a case of head lice is present.
  • If you pull bugs either adult lice or maturing nymphs, they will be crawling a bit on the piece of paper towel/tissue.   After you pull a couple of bugs, there’s no need to continue with the head check.  The individual needs to be treated.
  • Alternately, and if you’re still not sure after all of the above, you can always come to Meticulice for a comprehensive wet head check at a fee of $30.  Parents tell us how much more cooperative their children are when they are in a comfortable atmosphere with our trained specialists who have performed frequent head checks and move through the head checks efficiently, some taking ten minutes or less. Contact us for information on treatment – either by Meticulice in one treatment.  You can also visit our boutique to purchase the right head lice removal product and become educated on the method for proper head lice removal. We have had a huge increase in the number of families coming to us for guidance and effective head lice removal products. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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