Early detection might be all the treatment you need.

It has been a while since I offered lice removal services. Thankfully, I still get to experience the joys of head lice through friends and family. In my own home, we do weekly lice checks - my girls get a quick combing during one of their baths each week. One evening a week or so ago, one of my daughters said her head was itchy.  I did a quick spot check and saw nothing but knew that we would be doing our regular lice check the next day.  Now, the process of wet combing for lice detection is exactly the same as wet combing for lice removal.  Wet, condition, and detangle the hair.  Then start combing. A fine-toothed plastic comb can still be effective in detecting bugs but a metal lice comb with long rigid teeth is best for lice removal.  I usually comb around 40 -50 strokes all over the head; it takes less than 10 minutes.  If a child has lice, I will usually find some evidence of it within that time.

When I did the combing on my daughter's head, I found a louse after about 20 strokes. Unlike you when you found lice on the head, I was thrilled.  Anyway, once evidence of head lice is found, you keep on combing.  After a few more strokes, I found two more smaller lice. Then nothing after that.  I combed 100 more strokes with no more findings.  We were done.

A few days later, I combed again. 100 strokes. Nothing else was found.

A few days later, I combed again. 100 strokes. Nothing else was found.

I will keep on doing this until I have had two weeks of "nothing else was found". It is likely that the brief amount of combing that I was originally doing just for the detection of head lice was also fully sufficient as the treatment for it.

What else did I do when I found out that my daughter had head lice? Nothing.  No extra cleaning.  No extra laundry.  Because wet combing works and I knew that based on what I was finding (or not finding) in the comb that I had it beat.  This is the great joy of regular lice checks through wet combing.  They are so easy to do, take very little time, and are effective in finding something before it becomes a big problem. People ask me about how to prevent head lice. There is really nothing you can do to prevent it. But early detection is just as good as prevention in my books.  Head lice are truly a non-issue in my house because I know that as soon as someone brings them in, I will be able to get them out quickly and easily.

If you are surfing the web looking for information, it is likely that your problem is bigger than one or two lice.  When you are faced with a bigger problem, the treatment is no different - with more lice, you do the same thing (wet combing) but you just do it for longer. Read more posts on this blog for more info about wet combing and other inexpensive tools in the fight against head lice. You may have to put in more time this time before you get to 100 strokes with nothing found.  But, if you do regular head lice checks after this, it is unlikely that you or your loved ones will be dealing with so many head lice again.

So don't worry about things that you can't control - like tricks or tips on how to prevent head lice. Early detection is the key to keeping this problem at bay. And when you find a louse during a routine lice check, don't despair - celebrate!  You will have just proven that you have this under control.


Anonymous said...

Hi there! I am a teenager who unfortunately got lice a couple months ago, and with inconsistent nitpicking still have it. Luckily, though, lately my mom has found nothing at all in my head. Except I still feel very paranoid and have the tickle feeling on my head. Am I just being hypersensitive? We're still going through each day till the 2 weeks is up, but if we don't find anything (even if I'm still itching) that means we're good? (We use a plastic comb, not a metal one, and usually don't condition the hair; just go in wet - is that still effective?) thank you!!

Anonymous said...

^with some scrolling through your posts I answered most of the questions I had! Thank you!

Heather Sarrail said...

Hello! I found your blog last month when my 7 year old daughter got lice. I got to be the one to discover it! Lucky me. I found six live full size bugs and quite a few nymphs and nits.

First I ran out to get an over-the-counter medicated product, and was horrified to read that if you're allergic to ragweed, you shouldn't use it because it could cause breathing difficulty. Say what?! I bought the dimethicone (silicone) product instead, which works by smothering the lice, and tried that instead. It was a good start.

The next day, found your blog, bought a Terminator Nit Free comb, and for two weeks followed your advice of wet combing with conditioner, then blow-drying till bone dry, on all my three little girls, and myself. I checked my husband too, but mostly left him in charge of himself.

It was an EXTREMELY effective treatment. The 7 year old was rid of the lice, and the rest of us never got them.

My favorite parts about your advice were these:

1) Put all your energy into combing, not cleaning the house, because that's an unnecessary waste of time. THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I SO needed to hear this.

2) YOU CAN DO IT! You wrote somewhere that you have every confidence that your readers have what it takes to get this done on our own, and I really needed to hear that too.

I was so much calmer and more confident after reading your blog entries and replies to questions. It went from a stressful situation where I couldn't sleep, to a "Heck, I can do that" kind of thing in a matter of an hour.

Thank you so much.

Amber Fenerty said...

Hello. So I'm guna get right to it. I have three kids who attend school and a two year old at home and they all have lice. I've been fighting this battle for almost a year doing treatments every week or so and I can sadly see no end it sight. It breaks my heart to see my baby girl itching and I can't make it stop for her. Its so frustrating and I just wish to be rid of these creepy crawlers. Do you offer lice removal services or can point me in the right direction in the edmonton area. I'm desperate. Please I'm on my knees begging for help. Please help me and my kids!!!!

Ana said...

Hi. My kids had lice 2.5 weeks ago. We used RID shampoo and 2x/daily nit picking comb-outs for two weeks and they appear to be lice-free. However, I had a sad coincidence that at that same time- I developed a type of itchy eczema on my scalp. Now I don't know if my creepy crawlies are that or lice! When the kids got lice, I went to the dr to be checked and my husband has been checking me occasionally...although I must confess I'm a bit of a control freak and I don't know if he's only looking for the white eggs that are easy to see.

Yesterday and today I found 4 microscopic silvery-brown "flake"s that were hanging on tightly to my hair. Not white. Not dandruff. Did not come off until I scrape/pulled with my fingernails. I am concerned that there is a lone louse running around my scalp, these are its eggs, and within the next week or so I will "officially" have lice, in a more easily identified form.

I don't want to wait around for this to develop (early identification!), but I also understand that one is not supposed to do a RID or other treatment if you don't have lice. I can only self-check so much of my head AND the silvery-brown things I found slip through the teeth of the nit comb, so I don't know that I can comb them out.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

sdecorla said...

Hi, my four kids and I all have lice. I just ordered the licemeister comb. I was wondering if you think it's necessary to boil the comb after every use, or if it's OK to use it on one person and then use it on someone else afterwards without boiling. I don't really want to buy five combs, and boiling it every time I use it and waiting for it to cool down would take a lot of time. Thanks.

Falon Reed said...

Hi Cathy!
Question: I have read that soaking the combs in 99% rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfection method. Is this true or do they have to be boiled?

I'm so happy I found your blog. My daughter came home with lice just before school let out this year. Of course, I freaked out and went through all the washing and cleaning process - I exhausted myself bagging toys and washing laundry before I even got to treating her head! Which of course, I now know was my first mistake. All those lice had a party on her head while I was busy cleaning for eight hours before I even touched her! So stupid of me. I have been performing lice checks on her after we determined she was lice free - however after reading your blog I realize I was doing it wrong - I was just going through her dry hair in sections with my hands. Now I will always wet comb condition check!

Unfortunately we came home from the lake and one of my checks produced what I think was a nit. I proceeded to do the whole wet comb process (minus conditioner as I did not know to use it) and found no live bugs and no more nits. I combed for over an hour and visually went through her hair in sections. Then I wondered if perhaps maybe I had lice from the first time - I had been checked, but probably not properly - and she had slept with me last week and I thought maybe the bug crawled from head to hers, laid an egg and crawled back to me - is that even possible that it would do that?? Seems weird for it to do that, but that is the only thing I can think of. I have been wet combing her hair and coming up with nothing and wet combing my hair as well. I know I had issues with dandruff because I could see the flakes that easily brushed away, so I can't tell if something comes on the metal comb if its dandruff or an egg, how do you tell the difference?? Anyway, thank you so much for your blog!

Monita said...

Hi - I was wondering if we can hire you to come do a talk at our school? Is this something you do?
Please contact me if it is.

Michelle Woo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

Hello! So happy to find your site. I found six lice on my 5 year old daughter's head yesterday but no nits. She does have dandruff and i believe I was finding dandruff flakes instead of eggs. They were not attached to the hair. I treated her immediately & found nothing this morning. Now I am washing everything - everyone's bedding, coats, clothes, etc. it just occurred to me that I found bugs but not eggs, so hopefully I caught it early? I have two other children and I am 8 months pregnant with our 4th. My husband & I checked everyone and we seem to be clear. Would you recommend the condition & combing process for everyone? I feel like like I'm losing my mind with all the laundry.

Mandy Bean said...

Where can I find a Terminator comb? I found it online, but I'd like to pick it up today! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog after treating my daughter with RID last week. Like many of your readers, since the day I found lice in my daughter's hair, my head has been itchy. I hadn't found anything in my own head until last night when I spotted a few nits (yep, definitely clinging onto the hair). I loaded my hair with conditioner and attempted the wet combing method but don't think I found more than a few additional nits (no actual bugs - dead or alive). Is this possible?! Further, could I have missed the critters by not doing the wet comb method properly to myself (I don't have a helper)?