Head check screenings are an essential element in detecting lice. To be clear, a head check screening is an examination of a child’s head and hair to determine if lice or nits are present.
Our amazing School Nurses conduct head check screenings at school. The tools used are different than what we use here at Meticulice for our Wet Head Checks. Most schools aren’t able to use lice combs, or any combs for that matter. They do the best job possible with what they have access to.
At Meticulice, we use our Gotcha! Terminator Lice & Nit Comb. This comb features long, micro-grooved teeth to catch even the tiniest nit, with rounded ends to protect your scalp. There is research that proves that using a comb during a “wet-head check” in comparison to a school screening.. is much more effective!
Please take a look at this interesting study: Louse Comb VS Direct Visual Exam for the Diagnosis of Head Louse Infestations
In the meantime.. don’t worry! Regardless if you have our comb at home or not, you can still perform a head check right now!
- Detangler Comb
- Wooden stick (or tail comb)
- Lice comb (if available)
- Non-toxic mint spritz (if available)
- Small bowl of water
- Hair tie
It’s important for every individual in the household to be checked to determine if they have any evidence of head lice. Evidence during a head check is considered to be bugs and/or nits. Even if they claim they have no itchiness, there’s still a possibility that they may have it. Even if just 1 little bug is on their head, all of your hard work can be ruined by reinfestation within minutes. We don’t want that happening, and we know that you don’t either!
Working with thin layers of hair is important when checking for bugs or nits, that way you can see through the layer of hair. The most important area of focus is nearest to the scalp. When performing a head check, start at the bottom of the neck area and move upward in layers until the top of the head has been reached. You can check the individual’s bang area (if has any) separately, after the rest of the head is completed. This ensures that nothing will fall into the bang area during the check.
If at any time during the head check you do find any evidence, there is no need to continue the check. At that point, the parent or caregiver should go ahead with treatment immediately. Examination of the entire head is not necessary once head lice is identified.
For longer hair:
- Comb the tangles out of the hair with a detangler comb
- Grasp hair with one hand and position it high on the head much like an imaginary ponytail. You will continue to hold the hair in that manner during the whole check, or until evidence is found.
- Using your free hand, pull down thin layers of hair with a tail comb, wooden stick, fingernail (whichever you choose) -working your way towards the top of the head. During this time you will be examining both the scalp and the hair. Bugs will often appear as a speck of dirt on the scalp, or you might note a bug in movement. That will not be the case with nits. Nits are attached to the strand of the hair. They do not move along the hair shaft. Some nits may appear to be glistening, particularly in bright lighting. They tend to be reflective, similar to a mirror in sunlight.
- You’ll begin by pulling thin layers of hair from the bottom of the neck area, around the ears and sideburns. Continue to pull thin layers, moving from one side of the head to the other and around the neck around. Moving back and forth allows you to work through any tangles.
- As you work your way through the hair, remain focused on watching for evidence of lice. Magnifying headsets are available at www.meticulice.com for a minimal cost to assist with this task for those with vision difficulties.
- When you have completed pulling down thin layers and there is no more to be checked, you may now check the individual’s bangs if they have any. You can check bangs by pulling thin layers forward until there are no more layers left to examine.
- If you have a Gotcha! Terminator Lice & Nit Comb, you will do the following steps as well (if you do not and wish to have one, feel free to purchase at our online store or right in our treatment center!).
- Tilt the individual’s head back. With their head back, spray a non-toxic mint spritz lightly around the head. (Meticulice also offers a fantastic mint spray that has detangler included in it, “Minty’s Defense & Detangler Spray”). The spritz will assist in the combing process, as well as it is an offensive odor to the bugs and will cause them to run, increasing the chances of finding them.
- Use the Gotcha! Terminator Lice & Nit Comb for two to three minutes and comb at a 90-degree angle. Start at the scalp and comb in multiple directions using backward, downward and upward motions. Make sure that you comb all the way through the hair to the ends of the hair shaft. This is necessary because if you do catch a bug and remove the comb before reaching the end of the hair, it could result in a bug being left behind.
- Throughout this comb-out, be sure to check the comb often for evidence. Again, if evidence is found at any time, stop the process and inform the individual that treatment in needed. We suggest using a white paper towel to clear the comb out into after each comb through. This will easily show you anything that you are removing from the individual’s hair.
If no evidence is found, comb the hair back with a detangler comb and put hair into a ponytail and/or braid. They are clear!
If unsure if evidence was found, visit our “Bug I.D.” page at Meticulice for a free diagnosis!
When performing a head checks on short hair, you will detangle the hair as usual, but follow the following steps:
- Hold hair back at the forehead. As you hold the hair down, take your right hand (assuming that you’re right-handed) and pull thin layers of hair forward, similar to the bangs technique. Depending on the length, pull the hair forward in thin layers with your tail comb, wooden stick, fingernail, etc. When the crown area is reached, this part is done.
- Next, the sides of the head. It does not matter which side is done first, as long as both sides are checked thoroughly. The sides are checked from the sideburns, around the ears, moving upward in the same manner applied in the previous step. You will go through the same motions. Place one hand on the side of the head near the sideburn and gently pull down thin layers of hair. Continue the same technique for the opposite side of the head.
- When you reach the back of the head, have the individual tilt their head forward and go through the same motions, pulling thin layers from one side of the head to the other and move up toward the top of the head. Take extra time at the nape of the neck, as this is a popular area for bugs to lay their eggs, as well as it being more difficult for us to search.
- Lastly, examine behind the ears in the same manner as you did the sideburns, above.
- If you have a Gotcha! Terminator Lice & Nit Comb, follow up with a good comb-out, using the steps as listed above.
Assuming that no evidence is found, comb the hair back with a detangler comb and style as usual.