Head lice are infamous for being difficult to spot, but also easy to pass around. These tiny organisms can cling to a single strand of hair, making them a challenge to spot. If you find evidence of lice on someone else in your home, it is best practice to check yourself for any signs of infestation. Many people miss evidence of lice because they do not know what to look for. This is a complete guide to checking for lice on yourself or on others.
1. Work with hair when it’s damp, such as after a shower.
2. Using a detangler will help the comb glide through the hair more easily, especially if you have wavy or thick hair. Apply your detangler of choice and comb it through completely.
3. Now grab your nit remover comb and lay it flat against your head at the root of your hair.
4. Glide the comb all the way from the scalp and roots down to the ends of your hair.
5. For short or medium hair, comb all your hair to the right, then back to the left. Repeat by combing front to back and back to front. For long hair, you’ll part hair down the middle. Place one side in a ponytail while you comb through the loose side. Then switch.
6. Pause about every 5 strokes to wipe the comb onto a white paper towel and inspect it for nits/lice.
What am I looking for?
- Adult Lice: Adult lice are the easiest to spot. You’ll see small bugs with legs, and they can be dead or alive. They are grayish hue and are typically the size of sesame seeds.
- Nymphs: Nymphs are immature lice that have just hatched. They are the same shape as adult head lice but are much smaller—about the size of a pinhead. Nymphs start out very light gray or tan but darken as they start feeding and maturing into adults. Nymphs reach maturity 9-12 days after hatching.
- Nits: Nits are eggs laid by female lice. They are extremely small (barely visible to the naked eye) and oval-shaped, and at first glance can appear like grains of dirt or sand. Nits have a translucent outer casing that houses a baby louse (nymph) inside. They start out clear and then darken to a light tan as the nymph grows. After the nymph hatches from the egg, the empty casing can appear clear again, or white. Nits will be “stuck” to the hair shaft, close to the scalp for warmth, which is why it is important to make sure you position your comb close to your scalp so as to not miss them. Note that it is just as important to identify nits as it is to identify live lice, because even if you kill the adult lice, if any nits remain, they’ll hatch after about 8-9 days, and you’ll be re-infested.
You do not have to do it yourself. Come see us at Lice Clinics of America in our Omaha location. We do head checks for the whole family, so you also have a second opinion. Our experts can spot the signs of infestation before they get out of hand. Don’t let lice control your life. Book your appointment today.