4 Steps to Diagnose and Treat Head Lice

Nothing sends a parent into a complete state of frenzy than hearing their child has lice. You don’t know what to do first. Bleach every article of clothing your child owns, burn every hair brush and comb or simply move to a new town and leave the pesky creatures in the dust.

Maybe you saw your child constantly scratching their scalp or telling you that they feel like something is crawling or moving on their head. Maybe you heard of another case in your child’s West Hartford school. Either way, there are simple ways to diagnose and treat head lice, so don’t jump to conclusions without a proper diagnosis. Many times an untrained eye can misdiagnose a bad case of dandruff as lice.

Four Steps to Diagnose and Treat Head Lice

  1. Check your child’s hair, specifically focusing on the scalp area for live lice. The nits are dark-colored and hatched lice will be light-colored. Also, unlike dandruff, nits do not easily brush off. It’s like they are glued to the scalp.
  2. Run a fine-toothed lice comb through the hair, starting from the scalp, to catch lice and nits. If you do not find any crawling lice, look for nits attached to a ¼ inch of the hair shaft. (If you find them attached to more than a ¼ inch of the shaft, they are likely dead and no treatment is needed).
  3. Head lice is most often treated with a topical application of an over the counter or prescription medication. Follow the instructions of treatment as well as any direction received from your health care provider is best. Keep in mind that it may take more than one treatment if your child has long hair (shoulder-length) or the infestation is particularly active.
  4. Kids can return to school or daycare after the first treatment but every institution is different so be sure to check their policies.

There are also natural remedies that can be as effective, but you may want to consult with your healthcare provider first. Having lice is not a sign of poor hygiene. Treated promptly and thoroughly, you child can resume normal activities almost immediately. If you’re not sure if your child has lice or would like assistance from a trained medical professional, call us at 860.986.6440  or come on in, no appointment needed. We’re open 7 days a week and will be happy to help you. Our providers are all well trained in diagnosing and treating head lice.


3700 Cahaba Beach Road Birmingham, AL 35242

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Our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible in a kind and caring environment, in an economical manner, while respecting the rights of all of our patients, at times and locations convenient to the patient.

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