How to Check for Head Lice

Watch how to check for head lice videoYou receive notice that your child’s school has head lice. You see your child scratching their head. Don’t panic! First you will want to confirm there is head lice crawling around his or her head.

See pictures of head lice to help you identify them.

Although concerns over head lice may cause a range of emotions (such as stress, panic and worry), lice is commonly confused with minor scalp irritations, like dandruff. Once you know how to check for head lice, it will help prevent unnecessary stress.

How to check for lice:

  • First, find an area where you have access to bright light or an equally bright reading lamp.
  • Have the person you are checking sit in a chair where you can easily move around them and access all areas of the scalp.
  • Starting at the nape of the neck, part the hair in 1-inch sections and examine the hair and scalp carefully. Move upwards towards the back of the ears where lice like to hang out. You may see lice quickly moving away from the light.
  • When looking for nits, search for white to yellowish-brown specs the size of a poppy seed. They should be located about 1/4" from the base of the scalp. To determine if they are nits, try to pull one off. If it releases easily, it may be dandruff. Laid with a glue-like secretion, nits are difficult to dislodge.
  • If you determine you do have head lice, treat the person with a safe and effective head lice treatment.

NOTE: Lice may move quickly away from the light as you check the hair.

Here are a few tips when checking for head lice:

  • It is not always necessary to treat every family member for head lice. Only apply treatments to those family members if you have found head lice in their hair.
  • It is not necessary to use chemical pesticides to treat head lice. Affordable, over the counter, non-toxic head lice treatments, such as Licefreee! are becoming the first choice for treatment.
  • Recheck your family for head lice within 7 days of treating head lice. This would find any newly hatched lice if any eggs survived.
  • Cleaning your home is important when treating head lice. See How to Get Rid of Head Lice at Home.
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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.