If you or your child has lice, you will probably experience itching. The itching comes from an allergic reaction to the lice bites. It may take up to six weeks for symptoms to appear.
Lice are tiny parasites (bugs) that attach firmly to the hair shaft and resemble skin flakes or dandruff. Their eggs (nits) are also small, like knots in thread. They can be white, yellow or tan. It's easiest to spot them when they are wet, so it is a good idea to check your head first thing after a bath or shower.
Wet your hair first, then comb it carefully with a special nitpicking comb. Work in sections, starting with the temples and then behind the ears and nape of the neck. You may need to lean back or tilt your head in a way that makes it easier for you to see the harder-to-reach areas.
If you find lice, don't panic. Lice can be treated easily with nonprescription products. Also, nitpicking and washing household items that have been in contact with lice (such as pillows and hats) will help prevent them from spreading to other family members. It's also a good idea to encourage kids not to share combs, brushes, hats or other head gear with friends and to avoid head-to-head contact when playing. And finally, keeping a list of symptoms and when you or your child might have been exposed to lice can be helpful when talking to your health care provider.