Lice aren’t always immediately noticeable; in fact, you might consider them to be somewhat sneaky in how they seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere. While lice are treatable and nothing to freak out about, no one is going to argue over the fact that keeping them at bay or even just catching them very early on is better than suddenly realizing you have a full infestation on your hands. Here we’ll talk about why it’s important to check for lice, how often you should be doing it, and the sort of prevention and treatment options at your disposal.
Schools used to routinely do head checks on kids, but they’ve been steadily phasing out this practice over the years. Nowadays, it’s really up to parents and individuals to check for lice on their own. For the most part, the only people who need to routinely check for lice are parents of younger children or those who work with younger children.
That being said, everyone from kids to adults can get lice, even if you don’t have kids or don’t work around kids. This is why it’s important to check for lice if someone at work or school happens to get lice, as it could be possible that they’ve spread them to you as well.
When checking for lice, it’s best to use a nit comb. Lice can be hard to see – especially in the early stages – and their nits can be even more difficult to spot. Many people assume they have dandruff, when they instead have lice because the two can sometimes look so similar. When you’re using a nit comb to check for lice, start combing from the scalp, as this is going to be the area where lice are, since they feed directly from the scalp and attach their nits – egg sacs – to the hair shaft close to the scalp.
For young children who are in school or daycare – or who just spend a good amount of time with other kids – it’s best to routinely check their hair, such as at bath time. If you can catch lice very early on, then it’s likely you’ll only have to deal with a few live adults and just a spot where they’ve laid their nits. This means you likely won’t even have to worry about buying any kind of treatment products, as wetting the hair and combing them all out with a nit comb should do the trick.
A Positive Head Check
We’ve talked about when and how to check for lice, but what about when that head check turns out to be positive for lice? If you find that your child, you, or someone else in your household has lice, then don’t worry; treating them can be an involved process, but it’s completely doable. As stated before, if you’ve got a small lice infestation, then you may not even need to go out and buy anything to treat them, as long as you have a nit comb.
Nit combing is very straightforward, if rather involved. If there’s a sizeable infestation, then it’s likely that combing everything out will take several hours, if not a day or two of work. At this point it’s a good idea to look for some kind of over the counter product, either chemical based or something that uses natural ingredients, to use in conjunction with nit combing.
Keep in mind that when you’re combing the hair needs to be wet, preferably with some kind of lubricant that will help to smother the lice. You can use products at home like olive oil or Vaseline, or purchase lice treatment products specifically made for helping in the combing process. Also remember that if you use any kind of lice treatment shampoos, you need to strictly use them according to the instructions, especially if they’re chemical based.
Once you’ve done your treatment, you still need to check for lice in order to make sure they’re not still there, or you have not somehow become infested again from lice on a pillow or a piece of clothing. Returning infestations are precisely why it’s crucial to wash everything that you can, as well as continuously check for new lice or nits.
If you’re checking every day for about a week, and you haven’t come across anything, then you’re probably fine; but, to be on the safe side, check every so often for another week or two just to be certain that nothing was missed.