How to Check for Head Lice

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It is important to confirm a lice infestation before treating.

The most common head lice symptom is itching. If you notice your child scratching his or her head often, especially behind the ears or at the nape of the neck, check for lice. Usually lice can be found in these areas. Also, do frequent checks when you know of a lice outbreak in your child's school.

If you or a medical professional has already confirmed your child has head lice, learn How to Get RID of lice

Tips for Success

  • Have the person you are checking sit in a comfortable area where it is easy for you to maneuver around him/her to inspect for lice.
  • Examine the head under bright, natural light and use a clean, wide-tooth comb to remove any tangles. Head lice may be hard to detect because they move quickly and are very small.
  • A magnifying lens will make it easier to see the lice and their eggs (nits). If there has been excessive head scratching in a particular area, this is a good place to begin looking for lice.
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Start Checking

  • Lift a 1-2" section of hair, starting as close to the scalp as possible and slowly comb through this section of hair to the end. Wipe off the comb with a tissue or paper towel and use a magnifying lens to identify any objects you may find.
  • Pin back this section of hair and continue combing through another 1-2” section, repeating this step until the entire head has been checked for lice and eggs. Be sure to look carefully around the ears and on the back of the neck, where lice are commonly found.
  • If you do find lice or eggs you can stop combing and begin the RID 3-Step Process for Lice Treatment. Learn how to get RID® of lice
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  • However, If no lice or nits are found, DO NOT TREAT. Carefully re-inspect daily for at least 2 weeks following suspected exposure to lice.
  • Also, continue to inspect family members who may have been exposed to lice for at least two weeks.
NOTE: Checking for Pubic/Body lice is different than the process outlined above. For complete information about symptoms and treatment see Pubic and Body Lice