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How to Check For Lice

Manual lice removal

Wondering if you have lice can be almost as bad as knowing you have lice. It could be that there are kids in your child’s class with lice. Maybe your child came home complaining of an itchy head. Or, maybe you felt something crawling around on your own scalp. Whatever your situation, put those doubts to rest by checking – thoroughly – for signs of a lice infestation. 

What You’ll Need

If you want to get really thorough, arm yourself properly with the following:

  • A bright light 
  • A Lice comb or fine tooth comb
  • Detangler or conditioner
  • A magnifying glass
  • Ponytails or clips, in the case of long hair 
  • Mirrors (for those checking their own head)

The Procedure 

  1. Set up 
    • If you’re checking for lice on someone else, have them sit so their head is fully lit, and so that you have enough room to reach all sides of their head. 
    • If you’re checking your own head, you’ll need to be slightly more creative. That’s where the mirrors come in. Adjust them so you can see the back of your head. The process may be more difficult on your own, but being able to see your own scalp is the most important step. 
  2. Wet the hair. 
    • Lice move quickly, which means they can sometimes avoid detection by even the most thorough lice hunter. A wet head of hair will make it harder for lice to move quickly, and easier for you to spot them.  
  3. Apply conditioner
    • For tangled or thick hair, it may be difficult to pull the lice comb from scalp to tip, which is necessary for a thorough lice investigation. Apply detangler or conditioner to ensure that combing is easy and you can focus on looking for lice – not yanking the comb. (This also leads to happier kids!) Lice
  4. Part and fasten the hair (if long hair) 
    • For our long haired friends, it is necessary to tightly part the hair so that you can get a clear look at the scalp. Nits (lice eggs) tend to reside on hair shafts close to the scalp. Lice also like warm areas, so they often move away from the hair tips closer to the head. 
  5. Comb the hair 
    • Take a small portion of hair that is unfastened and slowly run the lice comb through it, from root to tip. After each pull, look at the teeth of the comb for lice or nits that have become dislodged. Lice are about the size of a sesame seed, and can range from translucent tan to dark reddish brown (depending on how recently they’ve fed). Nits are smaller, and can be brown, black, or tan. Since the bugs are so small, use the magnifying glass to be sure you’ve identified them correctly. 
    • Continue combing the hair until you’ve found a louse or nit. Note: even a single louse or nit counts as a lice infestation. At this point, you can either continue combing and removing the bugs you find, or you can choose a professional removal option. Either way, you now know that you have a lice problem, and further action is needed. 

You have a lice infestation. Now what? 

As mentioned above, if you find a lice using this method, you have the option to continue combing through each piece of hair and manually removing the bugs you find. However, we know how time consuming this process can be. Additionally, you may not be sure that all the bugs are really gone. If you’re looking for professional help, our team of technicians at Lice Knowing You is professionally trained in manual removal techniques, and can put your doubts to rest. To schedule a full treatment, find your nearest lice clinic and we’ll get you an appointment as soon as possible. 

Some Other Notes on Checking for Lice 

As you go through the process outlined above, keep in mind the following: 

  • Lice like warm places. Be sure to check the nape of the neck and behind the ears, as these are the warmest and most lice-friendly areas of the scalp. 
  • Don’t confuse nits and dandruff. Dandruff is usually white or grey, and therefore lighter in color than nits. Having a magnifying glass on hand will help you make this distinction. Additionally, dandruff will come off much more easily in the lice comb. Nits are attached to hair shifts by a protein-rich secretion that glues them in place, requiring more effort to dislodge them. 
  • Super lice aren’t visibly apparent. In other words, you can’t tell if you have a case of super lice just by catching one in your lice comb. Super lice are resistant to many over-the-counter chemical products but they aren’t necessarily bigger than regular lice. Either way, manual removal – as used by Lice Knowing You technicians – is your surest bet to getting rid of the bugs. 


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