Video Link - How to use your lice comb.

As I have said many times before on this blog, the most helpful tool to have in your fight against head lice is a proper, metal lice comb. I have also said that not all combs are created equal. This includes metal combs. There are a lot of combs on the market with metal teeth that are positively useless. If the teeth can easily bend or separate, then they will still comb around the nits instead of scraping them out. The three combs I recommend are the Licemeister, the Nit-Free Terminator, and the lovely inexpensive generic purple duel-sided comb found at Walmart. For information about these combs, click here.

There is a video on YouTube about the Licemeister comb and how to use it. The techniques apply to any proper lice comb. I will provide the link to the video in a moment, but if you go to watch it, promise you will come back and read my comments about the video. Will you read the rest of this blog post? You will? Ok, then click here for the link.

I like this video because it starts by showing a scalp with a bug crawling around it. This is very informative. Let me tell you, it looks like the bug is moving slowly, but when you are looking for bugs on a dry scalp, those suckers can seemingly move in a flash.

The video then shows what a nit (egg) looks like. When you look at an egg from the side, you can see it is almost like a tear drop - more narrow at the top and filling out towards the bottom. When you look at an egg from the top, it is perfectly oval in shape. I must point out that this video shows a person with nits throughout their hair. That is no guarantee that that person had a current, active case of head lice. Eggs are always laid right near the scalp. If you see an egg more than an inch away from the scalp, then you know that it has been on the head for a long time (based on the hair growth that has taken place) and it is either dead or already hatched. If you buy a Licemeister Comb, the critter card in the video comes with the comb. It has a drawing of nits and bugs to show their sizes. Nits are always the same size and shape. If you see something that looks different, or if it is easily moved, it isn't an egg.

In the video, as they get ready to use the comb, little plastic shawls are put on the kids. This is probably done to protect the clothing from any falling eggs or bugs. However, if an egg is scraped off the head and falls on the shirt, you don't have to worry about it - it is no longer being incubated by the scalp. If a bug falls on the shirt, then it is unlikely that it will hold on and then jump back on the scalp again when the shirt taken off over the head. Also, as you can see in the video, the kids' shirts all poke through the plastic covering, so I don't think that it offers any real protection. I would recommend wrapping a towel over the shoulders OR wearing a button up shirt that doesn't have to be pulled over the head. If I use some sort of covering, I mainly use it because I spray the hair with water and don't want people to get all wet.

"The licemeister comb can be used on wet or dry hair" says the video. Sure, but why would you use it on dry hair? When lice get wet, they stop moving and I find you comb out more lice that way. In fact, wet combing has been proven to be more effective in the detection of head lice than dry combing. As for using conditioner while combing, I use it on everyone. Conditioner makes the hair more tangle-free and keeps that hair wet for a longer time.

Good light is essential for seeing nits and lice, as the video says. Natural light is good, but I use a cheap head lamp when I'm nit-picking. I bought mine for $2 at Dollarama. That way, I have direct light wherever I am, and still have both hands free for combing and picking.

Do you see the way that the people in this video are combing? First they detangle the hair with a regular comb. This is important because you need to be able to comb through the hair without stopping when combing with a lice comb. Then comes the LiceMeister. At first they just use the LiceMeister like a regular comb - starting at the top of the scalp and combing down. Then you see someone starting at the scalp and combing out or up - like a ray of sunshine in a kid's drawing of the sun. Whichever way you comb, the main thing you must do is comb from root to tip in one continuous motion. You can comb from front to back, from neck to crown - I encourage you to comb from different directions. Just make sure you comb the entire hair shaft from the scalp to the end in one stroke.

As for clipping long hair in sections once you are done with them, this is fine. With my comb, I tend to just comb and comb and comb the whole head until I've had 100 strokes with no further signs of lice or eggs. Then I go through the scalp strand by strand, looking for anything that I may have missed. As the video says, if you see a bug or egg, pull it out immediately because if you leave it, you may not be able to find it again later.
Do you see the way the comb was wiped? This is what I do except before I wipe, I check the comb for bugs and eggs. After I wipe, I open the paper towel or toilet paper that I've wiped with and look for any bugs and eggs because sometimes they show up better on the white paper.

After you use your comb, you can clean it out, but you don't need the fancy tool to do it - you can just clean your lice comb using string or dental floss. Never pry apart the teeth of your lice comb. Whether you clean it our manually or not, you should boil the comb for, as the video says, "a short time". How long is a short time? I don't boil my combs for more than 30 seconds. How long do you think a tiny bug would survive in scalding water? Not long at all. You can also just put your combs in a bowl or large cup and pour boiling water over them. Then, you can leave them in a little longer, but it still doesn't have to be too long.

I always say that with a proper metal lice comb, you can always outrun headlice. If you comb regularly you can always pick them out faster than they can lay them. But you need to be diligent - this problem will not go away with any shampoo or treatment. Get a proper comb and get down to the business of nitpicking.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, I want to thank you for writing your blog. I've been dealing with this lice dilemma for the past 5 months. I've searched the web relentlessly and all have stated to use pesticides. I've tried all the products on the market, but continued to have the buggers. No one but you have stressed wet combing and nit picking. I've followed your advice and in the past week, I'm finally seeing an end to this nightmare. So, thank you very much for your advice on this topic.

Cassie said...

You said that nits are always the same size. Does that mean they don't grow-that they are laid a big as they will ever get? I assumed they grew and that was the reason we found more a couple weeks after "getting rid of" the lice the last time we got it. I found two bug in my hair this time and have combed and combed and had My head checked 3 times and no one has seen any nits or lice. What are the chance I don't have anything else? I even check in the mirror with a second mirror. I am just afraid I am missing them. My hair is so fine I don't think nits can be dislodged even with my Licemeister comb. Any ideas? Thank you for your common sense information.

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