Updated on March 10, 2020
Jody, a San Francisco mom, called in last week to ask what to look for in her daughter's hair as the child had been exposed to head lice. This is a very typical concern as parents sometimes feel that they are on-the-lookout for lice after exposure. You don’t want to jump the gun and call in for a lice check but you don’t want to sit and worry. Here are some tips on what to look for if your child or you have been exposed to head lice: The adult louse is the size of a sesame seed and is brownish, with no wings, but with 6 legs. Nits, or lice eggs, are translucent and they encase the lice. They have a hard, impenetrable shell and are very small when first laid. The baby lice, called nymphs, are inside the nit, until they hatch a week or so after being laid.
A child with head lice will have sesame seed sized eggs in the hair. These eggs (nits) are translucent and are round on one side and pointy on the other. They are stuck to the hair and must be pulled off; they do not flake off. Every nit must be removed from the hair or you have not eradicated the case of head lice. Unless you are specifically looking for nits in the hair, you will likely not see them as they often camouflage. While nits can be hard to find, the actual lice can be even more difficult to spot as they move quickly away from light when you move the hair around. In addition to looking for actual bugs and lice, be on the lookout for scratching children. As the lice bite, they often secrete saliva which can be itchy. While one of the main tell-tale symptoms of head lice is itching, in fact, not everyone itches from head lice. Whether you are itchy or not, depends on your sensitivity to the lice bites. Some people may have a case of head lice for weeks and then become itchy. Another potential symptom of head lice is little red bumps on the scalp. These develop in some individuals as a result of scratching. Again, not everyone with lice will show signs of the lice bite. If you suspect that, in fact, your child does have lice,bring the child outside and look for nits in the bright light. If you find that your child has a case of head lice, you can try to pull out the nits yourself. That is a labor-intensive job; there are not short cuts. The nits are glued to the hair and must be physically removed. Note that all nits must be out of the hair; if any nits remain, they will eventually hatch and then you will have live bugs in the hair again. This is a source of frustration for many parents. The nits blend in with the hair and are quite small rendering them very difficult to find if you do not have training and experience. For more information on who itches and who doesn't check out this blog Does Everyone Itch From Head Lice in our Education Center.
If you determine that the task is overwhelming or if you are not sure that your child has lice, it is time to bring in a lice professional. LiceDoctors technicians uses all-natural ingredients to kill the bugs and also hand pick remaining nits. Call LiceDoctors for same day service in San Francisco and nearby areas at (415) 578-1245. It is our goal to make the lice removal process as stress-free as possible so that we take the burden off of you!