Helpful Resources on Head Lice

Instructions for Removing Head Lice and Nits on Your Own

While Lice Aunties is always available to help you eradicate a head lice infestation, we understand that you may choose to do it yourself. Here are some directions that should help. While there are many approaches to this predicament, here are some best practices that will allow you to rid yourselves of lice and nits.

1. Lice or lint?

Make sure that what you are seeing are nits and lice. It is not always easy to see the bugs, so what you more typically look for are the nits. The bugs are small, move fast and don’t like the light. Nits are attached to the hair shaft and don’t come off easily. They look like small sesame seeds or if you are more familiar with strawberries, like strawberry seeds. They are typically quite close to the scalp, since they are eggs being laid by female fertilized lice, which feed off the scalp. One female louse can lay approximately five eggs per day. You probably have a good friend who is more of an expert than she or he wants to be and will look at the head/s in question. Your school nurse usually knows her stuff and might be helpful as well. Lice Aunties will be happy to perform head checks even if we don’t treat. There is a small fee for head checks.

2. Shampoo or no shampoo?

Since many schools have a protocol that says that you must use Rid or Nix, an over the counter head lice shampoo, you may need to follow their directions. Keep in mind that head lice have developed a certain amount of resistance to the shampoos, so while they may kill some of the lice, don’t be surprised if you still see live bugs after a treatment. In any event, the over the counter shampoos don’t kill nits (the eggs), so you will need to remove the nits and any remaining live bugs, using a good lice comb. There are other prescription and non-prescription lice shampoos available with varying degrees of effectiveness. While they also may be somewhat effective against the live bugs, they do not all kill the nits. Make sure to remove all the shampoo before you proceed to the next step. And please follow the directions. You do not want to be using the shampoo more often than recommended. (Pediculicides kill the bugs, ovicides kill the eggs).

3. Tools

Daylight works best. Otherwise get yourself set up with a lamp that you can move around the head. Full spectrum reading lights are terrific, but any strong focused light will work. Some people use headlamps.

A good lice comb is the most important tool in your battle against head lice. The best combs we know of are called Terminator combs. You can order them from Amazon, find them in local hair salons, or call us. The LiceMeister comb is another good option. You only need one lice comb for the whole family.

A thick white conditioner like Pantene is your best bet to aid you in combing out the lice and nits. Your goal is to completely coat the hair all the way down to the scalp with conditioner. You can use a regular comb or brush to work it in and organize the hair before you section it.

4. The key is in the combing.

We know you are probably not hairdressers and thus may be somewhat intimidated by the term “sectioning,” But most of you have played with dolls and certainly have messed around with braids, pony tails, and so on. Sectioning is basically the way you have always played with hair, only this time it is intended to make your job easier because you are simplifying the combing process. Remember that with boys who have short hair, there is no need to section.

Combing the hair to remove nits and lice is the key to successfully controlling this pest. This process is time consuming but critical for success. If you do not completely remove all the nits, the lice, and the nymphs (baby lice), re-infestation will most likely occur. This process should be repeated every other day, as long as nits and lice are still found on the head. If you find nothing (no nits) after ten days, a person is considered entirely lice free.

Use the lice comb on clean, damp and untangled hair liberally coated with conditioner all the way to the scalp. Conditioner makes combing through the hair less painful and can help immobilize any possible remaining live lice.

Before you begin combing with the lice comb, comb out all tangles and knots from the hair with a regular comb. This will also help spread the conditioner through the hair.

When using a lice comb, always start with the teeth of the comb as close to the scalp as possible. Each swipe should start at the base of the hair and extend all the way to the end.

5. Two combing methods:

Here are two methods for combing. Method number one will appeal to you if you want simple but effective instructions. Method number two will appeal to you if you need very detailed and prescriptive step-by-step instructions. They both work.

Method 1:

  1. Comb from front to back
  2. Wipe comb on white paper towel after each swipe
  3. Swipe until no new lice debris shows up on comb after wiping on paper towel
  4. Comb from left to right—first with normal comb to orient hair, then with lice comb.
  5. Comb from right to left—first with normal comb to orient hair, then with lice comb.
  6. Comb from back to front (may be more difficult)
  7. Part hair down middle then comb from part to ends of hair.

Method 2:

  1. Section the hair into 4 sections, part down the middle of the hairline making 2 sections, a right and a left side. Then divide both the right and left sections in half (parting just behind the ears) to make a total of 4 sections. Clip each section up with a duck clip so you only work with 1 section at a time.
  2. Put a clean paper towel on the side of the head you are not working on and clip it into place (e.g. if you are going to start combing on the right side, cover the 2 sections on the left side).
  3. Starting on the right front quadrant: take the duck clip out. Begin by combing through the section in long swipes, starting at the top of the head and working your way down to the sideburns. Next, take paper-thin sections of hair (beginning near the part down the middle) and comb through each one using the lice comb. After each paper-thin section, flip the combed hair onto the other side of the head and clip into place (over the paper towel). Always wipe the comb on paper towel or rinse in a bowl of water after each swipe. Remove the hair from the paper towel and clip it back in place.
  4. Move to the back right quadrant. Remove the duck clip and follow the same procedure used on the front section. As you go through each row of hair, clip it over the top of the paper towel on the other side, or clip it to the already combed hair in the front section.
  5. Once the right side is complete, remove the paper towel and start on the left half of the head. Start with the front section again and repeat the same procedure; however, since the right half of the hair is now combed out, there is no need for a paper towel and each row of hair can be placed on any of the already completed sections.
  6. When all 4 sections have been completed unclip all of the hair and comb out one more time

One More Approach – Olive Oil Protocol

Olive oil is applied Day 1 (you saturate the scalp) and kept on all night with a shower cap. In the am, comb hair section by section and then wash with shampoo for oily hair (like Herbal Essence).

Check scalps every day in between for nits and comb with conditioner if that makes it easier, every two days.

Oil must be reapplied on Day 5, Day 9, Day 13, Day 17 and Day 21. These days are organized to get the nits at the proper time in their cycle.

Additional Resources

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