Your child has been scratching her scalp for a few days, and nothing seems to make the itch go away. She may have head lice, those small parasitic insects that live on the scalp and are common among children under the age of 12. Their bites can cause itching. Fortunately, you can detect lice on your child’s scalp by closely examining her head, looking for both the adult lice and their eggs, known as nits. If you do find lice, wash her hair with a shampoo that is specially designed to kill lice.
Dampen your child’s hair. You may want to check her scalp for lice after she’s shampooed her hair and let it dry a bit.
Ask the child to sit by a bright lamp. Stand over the child, and use the comb to part her hair, revealing sections of the scalp.
Examine each part of the scalp carefully, looking for small white ovals or small, grayish insects. Lice usually lay their eggs on hair shafts near the scalp. You may need a magnifying glass or pair of reading glasses to help you see the lice or their eggs.
Confirm that the white ovals are actually nits. Nits can be confused with dandruff or other debris. If it is actually a nit, it will be difficult to remove from the shaft of hair it is attached to.
Look for live lice behind the child’s ears and on the back of her neck as well. It may be easiest for you to see lice in those two areas.
- Let your child’s school know if you do find lice on her scalp. They may want to check other students to prevent the lice from spreading further.