Dandruff, dirt, scabs, skin cells and knotted hair are often misidentified as evidence of head lice. What are the true signs that your child has head lice?
"If you see that your child often scratches his head, complains of an itchy scalp or head, take a close look for head lice," said Paul Guillebeau, an entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"Head lice tend to locate near the ears or along the back of the neck," he said. "So check these areas for signs of redness."
To remove head lice from your child, follow these 10 tips.
1. Work in a well-lighted area or use a flashlight.
2. Remove tangles using a grooming comb or hairbrush. Detangling spray or mousse is also useful.
3. Divide the hair into sections and fasten off the hair that is not being checked.
4. Use a lice comb to detect and remove head lice and their nits (eggs).
5. Go through the hair section from the scalp to the end. Nits are usually found close to the scalp.
6. Dip the comb in hot, soapy water or use tape to remove lice, nits and debris from the comb.
7. Sift through the hair and look for attached nits and live head lice.
8. Move on to the next section of hair and repeat steps 4-6 until all hair has been checked.
9. Screen the child every day for 10 days and regularly thereafter to assure that the head lice have been removed.
10. If you find more nits, do another manual search.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)