Years ago groups of our homo sapien ancestors and chimpanzees would spend hours at a time sitting in groups and literally picking nits and lice off of each other. This is where the term “nitpicking” originated. During this time, two distinct forms of head lice and body lice developed. One that fed exclusively on human life and one that was prone to other mammals like chimpanzees. The problem became irritating enough that they practiced nitpicking as a form of relief from the itching and frustration of lice. To this day, chimpanzee groups continue to nitpick each other and it has developed into an important social bonding time.
As parents of your human household, it is your responsibility to nitpick your children in this same way! Not by nagging and pointing out every annoying flaw…but by taking the time to search for any indication of head lice or an infestation. Here are a few quick tips and tricks so you know what to look for.
Nitpicking Tips for Parents:
Use a nitpicking comb. Having the right tools for the job can make all the difference. Nitpicking combs can be purchased at your local Lice Clinic of America. We offer expert advice on head lice checks, can even perform them for you, or show you the best ways to look. At home, we definitely recommend using a nitpicking comb that is specifically designed to have narrow, long teeth that will grasp eggs and live lice and comb them out of the hair.
Where do I start? Begin by wetting the child’s hair and applying hair conditioner. Comb their hair through to remove any tangles. Get a clean paper towel and have it handy. Next, start behind the ears, at the crown of the head and near the neckline where head lice like to hang out. Comb through hair carefully and one small section at a time. Each swipe, wipe off the comb onto a clean paper towel so that you can observe any remnants that are coming off. Make sure to scrape lightly against the scalp with each combing to catch nits that are laid near the base.
Know where to look. Lice are most often behind the ear, at the crown of the head or along the neckline. Carefully comb through these areas searching for nits, the most obvious sign of head lice. Take a hair clip and section off parts of the hair so it is easier to work with. Remember that long, thick hair will be much more difficult to search through. Even consider getting a magnifying glass if your child has extremely thick hair. They can come in handy if you are having difficulty seeing small flecks or specks.
Be patient with yourself. This will get easier the more you do it. Remember, even school nurses often misdiagnose head lice as it can be very tricky to distinguish between head lice and dandruff at times. Dandruff will easily flake off and eggs will need to be removed with a nitpicking comb.
Perform head lice checks often. Head lice are a problem all year round, however, the most critical times for head lice are back to school, summertime, and vacations. Particularly after these times make sure you are checking your children for head lice. Summer camps are a big problem for head lice, sleepovers, or even participating in sports teams. The more often you check, the better you will get at it and the easier it will become.