Head Lice Information

  • Early Detection Is The Connection!  

    Recommendations from your School Health Services Nursing Team:

    The best method to detect head lice in your child is through positive identification of a live bug. Because lice easily hide in hair the most effective method is through wet combing your child’s hair with conditioner and a fine tooth comb. We recommend that you use this procedure if your child shows signs of a persistent itchy scalp or you are aware of head to head contact with someone who was positively diagnosed with head lice. You can use this technique as many times as you like without harm to your child. It is also useful when combing hard to comb hair.

    While combing your child’s hair you may discover nits or old egg sacs. This does not indicate your child has lice, but it does mean you should repeat the wet combing method every couple days to see if your child has a live louse in their hair.

    If you find what you think is a live louse, bring it to the school nurse (free) or your health provider (may charge) for confirmation. Often people can have other bugs in their hair that are mistaken for a louse. This is very important in controlling and treating head lice.

    Your school nurse or health provider will then advise you on the appropriate treatment for your child. There are prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and non-toxic remedies. The type of treatment will be advised based on your child, your family’s lifestyle, and the extent of the problem. It is very important that you not treat your child unless there is a positive identification of head lice. Misdiagnosis is very common, causing mistreatment and contributing to insecticide resistant lice which are difficult to treat.

    Below is a method of detecting the presence of head lice called “Wet-Combing”. WetCombing with conditioner slows the lice or nymphs down long enough to be collected in the teeth of the comb.

    Wet-Combing Instructions (See video above)

    Supplies Needed: a lice comb or a hair comb with teeth that are close together, white hair conditioner (the inexpensive kind that can be purchased at the dollar store), and paper towels.

    1. Liberally apply conditioner on DRY hair, saturating the hair and scalp.

    2. Comb conditioner through hair with the detangling comb to further distribute the conditioner and remove knots.

    3. Clean one section of hair at a time, using a hair clip to keep the rest out of the way.

    4. Position the teeth of the lice comb as close to the root of the hair shaft as possible, and then pull the comb through the full length of the hair from root to tip.

    5. After combing each section, wipe the conditioner off the comb onto a paper towel and spread it out. Take note of any nits and live lice you find so that you can monitor your progress.

    6. Continue taking small sections working your way up to the top of the head until all the hair has been combed.

    7. Rinse out the conditioner and style as usual.

    8. If you find any bugs, confirm positive identification of lice through appropriate methods (ie; school nurse, health provider).

    9. If confirmed positive, discuss appropriate treatment methods.

    10. If you discover nits or empty lice sacs DO NOT Treat, but repeat wet combing every couple of days for two weeks.


    YOUTUBE VIDEO: Wetcombing Instructions

    Print/View: Head Lice Management Parent Packet [PDF]

Myths and Facts About Head Lice

  • Myth: Only dirty people get head lice.

    Fact: Personal hygiene or household or school cleanliness are not factors for infestation. In fact, head lice often infest people with good hygiene and grooming habits [2,3]

    Myth: Head lice carry diseases.

    Fact: Head lice do not spread diseases. [1]

    Myth: Head lice can be spread by sharing hairbrushes, hats, clothes and other personal items.

    Fact: It is uncommon to spread head lice by contact with clothing or other personal items, such as combs, brushes and hair accessories that have been in contact with a person with head lice. [1]

    Myth: Head lice can jump or fly, and can live anywhere.

    Fact: Head lice cannot jump or fly; they only move by crawling. And it’s highly unlikely to find head lice living on objects like helmets or hats because they have feet that are specifically designed to grasp on to the hair shaft of humans. Additionally, a louse can only live for a few hours without feeding on a human host. [1]

    Myth: You can use home remedies like mayonnaise to get rid of head lice.

    Fact: There is no scientific evidence that home remedies are effective treatments. [7] You should talk to your health care provider about treatment options, including prescription products that are currently available. 

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parasites: Lice: Head Lice: Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.cdc. gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed April 15, 2015.

    2. Meinking T, Taplin D, Vicaria M. Infestations. In: Schachner LA, Hansen RC, eds. Pediatric Dermatology, 4th ed. Mosby Elsevier; 2011:1525-1583.

    3. CDC. Parasites: Lice: Head lice: Epidemiology and Risk Factors. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/epi.html. Accessed April 15, 2015.