How To Spot Head Lice

Are you wondering how to spot head lice? It’s important to spot them as soon as possible so you can get treatment for them before they spread to others. Plus, no one wants to deal with the itching caused by lice any longer than absolutely necessary!

We’ll tell you how to check for lice on another person. It’s difficult to check yourself for lice because it’s hard to see your own scalp well, even with a mirror, so if you think you may have lice, it’s better to ask another person to check your head for you. If one person in your home has lice, everyone living in the home should be checked, because they are very contagious and spread easily in the home setting.

You can visit a doctor to be checked for lice, but that’s usually not necessary. It’s easy enough for someone with no medical experience to examine someone for lice. If you have questions, though, ask your doctor for more information about how to spot head lice.

How to Spot Head Lice

Mother treating daughter’s hair against lice

All you need to check for lice is good lighting, a fine-toothed comb, and some time. It can take a while to check thoroughly, especially on someone that has long or thick hair.

  1. Wet the hair. Some people also feel it helps to lubricate the hair with some conditioner. It makes it easier to spot the lice and also makes it harder for them to scurry away.
  2. Have the person you are checking for lice sit under a bright light. Sitting near a window if the day is sunny and bright will work. Lice and their eggs (nits) can be hard to spot and if you don’t have good light, you can easily miss them.
  3. Divide the hair into sections and, using a fine-toothed comb, comb the hair slowly from the scalp downward, watching carefully for adult lice or nits (lice eggs). Adult lice are about the size and color of sesame seeds but they can be hard to spot because they tend to scurry quickly away. It may be easier to spot nits, though those are very tiny, even smaller than a sesame seed. They are usually found close to the scalp and often appear stuck or glued to the hair. According to the Mayo Clinic, if nits are found more than ¼ inch from the scalp, they are probably dead or empty, since they need to be near the scalp in order to incubate. Keep in mind that people often have debris in their hair, like dandruff, dirt, lint, and such. Unlike nits, these items will easily comb out of the hair, though.
  4. Comb all of the hair in an orderly fashion. If lice are suspected but none are found, follow these instructions for how to check for lice a second time. If none are found the second time around, the person is probably lice-free.

Talk to your doctor if you need more information about how to spot head lice. If you have children in school, you can also talk to their school nurse and he or she can probably assist you in checking them for lice if needed.

Here is what lice and nits look like :

If You do Spot Lice

If you spot any lice or nits, the affected person should be treated for lice as soon as possible. In most cases, you will not need a doctor’s prescription for lice treatment; over-the-counter remedies are usually very effective. Our favorite treatment for lice is the Fairy Tales Lice Good-bye Lice Removal Kit, which is completely non-toxic and uses naturally-occurring enzymes to kill lice. To learn more about our favorite treatment for lice, just follow the link.