What is in my kids’ hair – is it head lice?

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At Lice Be Gone we joke (although it’s actually true so not really funny) that lice bring out the crazy in people. I get it, I’m terrified of all reptiles especially the ones that start with “s”, I can’t bring myself to even write the word. Bugs obviously don’t bother me at all. The thought of head lice makes people anxious and when talking about it they start scratching their heads. Try it, start a discussion about lice and watch as people start feeling itchy. Back to bringing out the crazy, when anxious most of us have a tough time focusing on facts and seeing things clearly. When you hear that “lice is going around” (which I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s likely kids in your town walking around with lice and nits now), you’ll want to rip your sleeping child out of bed and examine their heads. I do think that routine screenings are the best way to control head lice. If you find it early, then there’s a much better chance that it won’t spread to anyone else (meaning us parents) in the family.

Here are some facts and suggestions-

Lice are small wingless parasitic bugs. Because they have no wings they can’t fly. Lice don’t jump or hop, they crawl (the visual of a louse hopping is funny but I suppose terrifying to someone that doesn’t have the facts). So here goes again- lice don’t hop, don’t jump, don’t fly. They are expert crawlers, they are fast!

Lice are parasites, they need to feed from a scalp (this is what causes people to be itchy). Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, however, just because one isn’t itchy doesn’t mean you don’t have head lice. Being itchy or seeing your child scratching repeatedly is a reason to check for lice. If lice are found, then I advise checking everyone in the family regardless of them feeling itchy. The converse is true too, remember just the word lice can make one itchy so don’t convince yourself that you have lice because your child does. I can’t emphasize this enough- if someone in the family has lice then have everyone in the family properly checked. Don’t make assumptions, get properly checked. Which brings me to how to check for head lice.

Wet check- this is the most effective and accurate way to screen for head lice. It’s the only way that we screen at our lice treatment center.

Comb conditioner in clean damp hair. Using a metal lice comb, go around the head. Wipe the comb off onto a white paper towel. If you pull out a bug, then there’s a chance that you found a louse. There are times that there are other bugs in hair, such as summertime. Save whatever you found, you are welcome to call, email a photo staff@licebegone.net or drop it off. This is important because not everything that is dark that comes out on the comb are lice or nits. Remember, lice and the thought of it causes so much anxiety and everything begins to look like a bug. Over the years people have shown us “things” that they are certain are bugs and they’re not. It’s been mulch, dirt (I’m not saying your child is dirty, we all have stuff in our hair), and a host of other things.

Nits when off the hair are beige or grey in color. They are symmetrical, oval and have a tiny point at one end. People send photos to our lice treatment center with things that are irregularly shaped that are not nits. It’s very important to save what you find, I’m a lice expert, I can tell you if what you show us are nits or bugs. Remember not everything that comes out on the comb is lice related.