Checking for head lice

Checking your child’s hair only takes a few minutes and can easily become a routine, just like brushing their teeth or combing their hair.

The presence of head lice will not always cause itching straight away, it can take over a month before this symptom develops. In fact, only 30% of children are aware of itching when they have lice.

When checking for head lice, perhaps try and do it whilst they are watching TV or reading a book, especially if you have a fidgety child! As a little reminder, `once a week, take a peek’.

The best way to check for head lice is to:

  • Use a comb made for the purpose, ideally white so the lice can be seen easily and with teeth no more than 0.3mm apart in order to trap head lice – research has found detection combing was four times more effective than visual inspection
  • Comb through the hair using a conditioner, which can help make the process more comfortable
  • Ensure the lighting in the room is good
  • Make sure you divide the child’s hair into sections and insert the comb at the roots before gliding outwards You are looking for a living, moving louse. They range in size from a full stop to a sesame seed depending on their age. When it first hatches, a young louse (known as a nymph) is transparent but after its first blood meal, it will darken to a greyish brown colour. Head lice live on, or very close to, the scalp and don’t wander far along the hair shaft unless encouraged to move to a new head.

How to check

The night before school

A little story to distract your child while you check