Managing Nits and Headlice

How to Check Your Child's Hair for Nits and Headlice

Check your child's head once a week.  Look all over the scalp for insects or eggs, especially:

  • Around the hairline at the back of the neck
  • Behind the ears
  • On the crown.

Use a fine-toothed comb (available from chemist) on wet hair to find lice. Not all children complain of itching heads.

When to Treat

Treatment is required if you find:

  • a LIVE insect on the scalp.
  • an egg within 1cm of the scalp.

How to Treat

Effective treatment can be cheap.  A combination of methods is likely to be most successful.

Method 1: Dry combing

This method is for removal of headlice and eggs.

  • Use a metal fine-toothed comb. Some combs will extract adult headlice only and leave the eggs; the closer together the teeth of the comb are, the more successful combing will be.  The National Pediculosis Association in the United States recommends combs that have individually tooled rounded teeth that are evenly spaced and set in a plastic handle.
  • Fingernails can effectively remove eggs.
  • Individual strands of hair can be cut to remove difficult eggs.

Method 2: Wet combing

This method, using any kind of hair conditioner, is for detection and removal of headlice and eggs.  The idea is to smother the headlice with conditioner, preventing them moving away, and to allow manual removal.

  • Apply enough conditioner (much more than usual) on dry hair to thoroughly cover the whole scalp and all the hair from the roots to the tips.
  • Keep the conditioner in the hair. Conditioner stuns the insects for about 20 minutes.
  • Comb the hair straight and get knots out with an ordinary comb.
  • Use a fine-toothed comb to systematically comb the hair. Comb the full length of each hair.
  • Wipe the comb with a clean tissue after each stroke of the comb.
  • After thorough combing and inspection, wash the conditioner out.
  • REPEAT this treatment on alternate days for three weeks.

NOTE: Do not use conditioner within a day of using a chemical treatment as it will make the chemical treatment ineffective.