Head lice cause intense itching of the scalp, and if the infestation has been going on for awhile there can also be signs of redness and irritation. Parents and teachers should watch for children who scratch their heads constantly or excessively and if an infestation is suspected, quietly remove the child for the inspection so as to prevent embarrassment.

In such cases, check the scalp for nits or lice. Nits are small, about the size of a mustard seed and difficult to see at first, but once you know what you’re looking for they become easier to spot. Nits that still contain an embryo about to hatch are darker, thicker and generally on the first inch or so of the hair shaft. Hair grows about an inch to an inch and a half a month so nits found several inches out along the hair shaft are usually just the empty shells. These shells are flat and a lighter, translucent color than the full nits and indicate the infestation has been going on for awhile.

If you’re not sure what to look for, ask for help from someone such as the school nurse who can positively identify the eggs or the insects.