The CDC estimates that every year between 6 and 12 million school-aged children will contract head lice. That is as many as 1 in 5 kids, between the ages of 3 and 11! YIKES! I actually never had lice as a child, believe it or not. But, I remember my mother losing her dang mind whenever we were exposed. She would tear the house apart, cleaning everything from the drapes to the mattresses. If you are a mom of school-aged kids, you know the drill. The call comes in, usually a few hours after you picked your daughter up from the slumber party, her best friend has lice. Or you get the dreaded note in the backpack, a child in your son’s class has been diagnosed with head lice…Again.
So how can you tell if you’re the child has it? The sad truth is, it can be very difficult to tell for the first week or so. When you first contract head lice (which almost always happens through direct head to head contact) you probably have one very small bug, hiding out very close to or directly on the scalp, amid a very full head of hair. If the bug is a female, it will lay 8-10 eggs per day. These eggs, formally known as nits, are TINY! If your eye is unfortunately trained, you will have a better chance. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll need some help.
At Fresh Heads, we begin our head checks with a comb out. We have found that a great nit comb is more effective than our eyes. Listen closely parents–Every mother of school-aged children should have a TERMINATOR COMB. No other comb will do. I’m serious, it makes a huge, huge difference! As soon as you know your child has been exposed, start combing.
Is it a nit or is it dandruff? Nits ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS have the same shape. They are tiny, oval-shaped, hard and brownish (not white) with a small ‘tail’. They are really never white, especially once pull off the hair shaft. They are glued tightly onto the hair shaft, and will not come off or flake away easily.
If you are unsure, you should probably schedule a head check. School nurses have seen it a hundred times, and will gladly check your child for free. Fresh Heads offers a really thorough head check for a fee if you are still worried. We always answer our phones and are happy to offer our best advice. Good Luck!!!