Every parent fears that phone call. “There’s no need for alarm, but there’s been a lice outbreak . . .” But not every nit infestation is easily caught, and in the panic of, “My son played with that kid just last week!” every speck of dirt can look like lice. So how can you tell the nits from the nots? Calm, care, and a fine-toothed comb.
How to Misdiagnose Lice
Are you seeing lice that aren’t there? Make sure you’re not falling prey to these common ways to misdiagnose a lice problem.
- The phantom itch. Most people only need to hear the word “lice,” and suddenly they can feel parasites crawling all over their scalp. Itching is a symptom of lice (caused by an allergic reaction to lice saliva), but there are plenty of other reasons for an itchy scalp (and the power of suggestion is high on the list). Before jumping to conclusions, comb through your child’s hair to see if there’s any evidence of bugs, or if fear is making you feel things that aren’t there.
- Head and shoulders (Nits? Or not?). See that tiny fleck of white on your child’s hair? It must be a nit! Not so fast . . . Dandruff, hair debris, leftover shampoo, and even sand are commonly mistaken for nits. So how can you tell if that speck is really lice? Wet combing is the most accurate method of lice detection. Lice eggs aren’t bright white, but cream or grey-ish. Lice lay eggs near the root of the hair, and they cement their eggs to the follicle, so if hair debris is easily removed, it’s not nits. If, however, you see clear evidence of lice moving around on the scalp, the infestation has gotten bad. It’s time to call the pros.
Kids may be misdiagnosed with lice all the time, but it’s also common for parents to announce kids nit-free when they’re not. If you’re not sure whether or not your child has lice, call HBI Lice Removal for a professional lice check.