The phone rings and it is the school nurse. They are telling you that your son has “lice” and “nits” and that you need to pick him up from school right away. When you arrive, the nurse shows you the suspected “lice” that they have found and you say to yourself….”hmmm…just not that sure about that”. Another scenario, your daughter has been scratching the back of her neck and her head and you notice a rash. You take her to the dermatologist and they check her and prescribe some medication and tell you to use this and she should get better within a week. Two months later, you find your daughter still scratching…a lot….and you bring her back to the dermatologist. When they examine your daughter again, they say “oh, wow, your daughter has a very bad case of lice and that would explain all the itching”.

Both of these scenarios are real. These are situations that have happened to clients of mine and it is very unfortunate. Unfortunate for the client that had been misdiagnosed by the school nurse. For months, this poor child had multiple chemical treatments by her parents because they believed that she had lice. For months, the child has had to sit through nightly comb outs and the family has been sent home from school repeatedly for having “lice”–NOT! They finally came to me after their child was sent home yet again from school and this time brought with them the “nits” that the nurse believed to have been in the child’s hair. When we examined the supposed “nits”, they were nothing more than pieces of dry scalp.

Another unfortunate story is a child who had been itchy for months. The mom brought the child to the doctor and they hardly examined the child. They simply listened to the symptoms, looked at the rash on the back of the neck and prescribed medication. When the symptoms did not improve and the itching and scratching were still present, the mother brought the child back and she was found to have a very, very bad case of lice.

Learning about lice and knowing what lice and nits look like is so very important. It can help you as a parent better identify what it is that is found and help to detect symptoms early on. Detection is key and knowing what the difference is between nits, and hair casts and other hair debris. I reference the website as I find that they have wonderful pictures, articles and resources. They are the home of the National Pediculosis Association and truly are the experts.

We all really need to “know our nits”. The topic of lice is something you should definitely be “nitpicky” about!

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Lauren Salzberg

Potomac Lice Lady