“Head Lice and the Home Microscopist”


Micro Notes, Vol 1:2 51-52, Feb 1997


If you have a child in preschool or elementary school, it is inevitable that you will be faced with the health concern about head lice. Even if you escape the personal infestation, you will probably receive a letter warning that head lice have been found on some child at the school and suggesting that your child’s hair be checked carefully. In our case it was the actual infestation of a 5 year old head, probably the result of hugging a stuffed Ninja Turtle obtained from a garage sale. A search of home health books (1) and looking up “lice” in the encyclopedias (2,3) provided some information about the little critters but not many pictures showing what we were looking for. Even Internet sources such as ‘Head Lice’ by Judith Tucker NP (4) which provided the most useful summary of information on lice I found, has only a single picture, that of a nit attached to a hair shaft. With a stereomicroscope on a basement work table, our family learned “up-close” about what head lice look like. The following are our findings. In a sense we turned a dreaded lice infestation into a science project.

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