How to Check Your Child for Lice

Think your child might have lice? Here's how you can tell.

checking for lice

There's a case of lice in my child's classroom. What do I do?

Check her head! All you need is bright light and a fine-tooth comb. First, wet her hair. Then separate it into small sections and slowly comb from the scalp down. Look for little brown objects that resemble rice (the adult lice) and light yellow or white objects that look like seeds and seem to be cemented to the scalp (the nits). Pay special attention behind the ears and at the nape of the neck, where lice love to lay nits.

I didn't see anything, but I'm wigged out anyway. Can I treat everyone in my house just to be safe?

No. Commercial lice treatments contain insecticides, which are essentially toxins. Such treatments are fine to use once in a while, but you don't want to overuse them. And there's no evidence that they act as a preventive. If you use the products and you don't need them, you run the risk of breeding lice resistant to the medications.

Be on the lookout:

Lice love to be at humans' body temperature, so in colder weather, they'll stay close to your scalp. In warmer temperatures, they're more likely to venture further down the hair shaft.