Pharmacy Corner
Head Lice: A Lousy Situation! How do I know if my child or I have head lice?

The most common signs that you child has head lice are2:

  • Tickle/crawling sensation in their hair
  • Itchy scalp, particularly near the neck and behind the ears
  • Irritability and trouble sleeping; head lice are most active in the dark and the itching can make it very hard to sleep
  • Scratches and sores, which can become infected and need an antibiotic to treat the sore
How do I check my child’s scalp for head lice?

Head lice are found by detecting live lice in the hair. Eggs tell us that they were infested, but we are just not sure if it was from a recent infestation or a past one.

Tools that are useful to find lice include:

  • A bright light
  • A fine-toothed/lice comb
  • A magnifying glass
  • Hair conditioner (wet method)

Methods for detection10 :

Wet Hair CombingDry Hair Combing

Time: 5-15 minutes

Steps:

  1. Wash hair with shampoo, rinse, then apply conditioner
  2. Comb hair with an ordinary comb to straighten and untangle the hair, then switch to the fine-toothed comb
  3. Draw the comb from the scalp to the end of the hair
  4. Wipe the comb off on a paper towel
  5. Check both the comb and paper towel after each stroke for lice; a magnifying glass can help
  6. Work each section of the hair so that the whole head can be checked
  7. After the whole head has been combed, rinse off conditioner and repeat steps 3 to 6 in wet hair. This helps to catch anything that could have been missed with the first check

Time: 3-5 minutes

Steps:

  1. Comb hair with an ordinary comb to straighten and untangle the hair, then switch to the fine-toothed comb
  2. Draw the comb from the scalp to the end of the hair, combing each section of hair 3 to 4 times before moving onto the next section
  3. Look for lice as the comb is drawn through the hair; a magnifying glass can help
  4. Work each section so that the whole head can be checked

The wet method for detection is better since wet lice don’t move around the scalp whereas dry lice scurry away during combing.

Where are head lice most commonly found?

Head lice like warm places and are commonly found around and behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head2.