Finding head lice can be a very daunting task. It is something that many parents do not want to do. However, each parent needs to learn how to check for lice.
If you receive a note from the school stating that head lice is going around, finding them as soon as possible is essential in order to get rid of them fast. This also helps to make sure that your child does not pass them to anyone else.
How to check for head lice: identifying live lice and nits
First, you need to make sure that you have lice and not dandruff or something else. Checking for lice means you are going to examine the infested person’s scalp and hair and try to see with the naked eye some adult lice, nymphs or head lice eggs.
Here is some detailed information about which insects you should be looking for.
Head lice are parasites that live in the scalp and hair of humans. The medical term for head lice is Pediculus humanus capitis, and the infestation is commonly known as pediculosis.
The most common symptoms of head lice include frequent scratching of the head and sudden appearance of dandruff-like flecks in the hair close to the scalp.
The most obvious head lice symptom is an itchy scalp, which is caused by the saliva of the lice in the spot where the blood is drawn.
These parasitic insects develop in 3 forms namely: nits, nymphs, and adults. Nits are the eggs of head lice. They are quite hard to see and are often mistaken as droplets of hair spray or dandruff.
Nits are firmly attached to the hair shaft and takes about one week to hatch. Nits hatch to form nymphs, which are small head lice. They mature about seven days and become an adult lice.
In order to survive, they suck blood. An adult louse is as small as a sesame seed. It has 6 legs and appears grayish to white in color. Persons with dark hair also have darker adult lice making them very difficult to see.
If your child is constantly scratching at the neckline or behind the ears, you should immediately inspect his or her head for lice and nits.
- Make sure that there is adequate lighting when checking for head lice. A well-lit room or flashlight will help you spot any eggs or lice.
- Begin at the bottom part of the neck and behind the ears and work your way up. Nits and lice can be found anywhere on the head but they prefer warmer places to hide. Thus, the lower hairline is the right place to start.
- After checking the first section, divide the hair into halves and inspect each section for eggs and lice. Repeat the process throughout the entire head, paying particular attention to warmer spots.
How to check yourself for lice
If you feel that your scalp is itching or you can feel something crawling on your head, you need to check yourself for lice. However, this is not easy, especially if you are alone or can’t or don’t want to ask someone to help you.
If you are on your own, you will be wondering how to check for lice on yourself. What you can do is examine the area behind your ears in the mirror, because this is where head lice will lay their eggs. You might find a live lice or you might see nits on your hair.
To make sure there are nits and not dandruff, try to pull them out by shaking your head. If they are still there, these are nits.
Then, if you can put a mirror in front of your bathroom mirror, you can examine the base of your neck. First take your hair up and try to look if you can see lice crawling. You might also see lice eggs. Note that if you have dark hair, this might be more difficult.
Once you know for sure that you or your child has head lice, you should immediately start to treat yourself or your child. There are several treatments that effectively remove head lice.