The School Nurse Lice Battle Plan

Battle Day One

Attack #4: Combing

This is a important part (and the most dreaded part - this is where the crying starts (especially for girls with longer hair)). You will want to comb the hair after each and every olive oil treatment. Once the olive oil treatment has lasted the 6-8 hours, and if any lice survived the smothering nature of the olive oil, you will likely “catch” them in your nit comb. No, I don’t recommend trying to remove each and every nit on real nit-y heads (ever wonder where the term nit-picking came from?). It’s the live lice that we need kill in order to disrupt the life cycle of these critters and eradicate them from our environment. This 4th step will also remove the dead bugs from the hair and “break off” some of the nits that are still attached.

How To Nit Comb

You’ll need:

  1. Nit Comb
  2. Reading Glasses
  3. White Towels
  4. Regular, wide-toothed comb

After you have left the olive oil in for 6-8 hours and BEFORE washing the oil out, use a regular comb to straighten and detangle the hair. Then use the nit comb to remove the lice that are both dead and living. Wear your reading glasses when you are combing the hair. This will allow you to make out the lice from the debris and to see if the treatments are effective (is the bug “kicking” or dead).

You should only see dead bugs. A live bug is concerning. As a matter of fact, let me know if you find a live bug at this point. I’d love to know this information.

For humans, we are subjected to the rule of 3: We will die (or become greatly jeopardized) 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without hydration and 30 days without nutrition. Lice are a bit “tougher” in regards to oxygen. Lice do not breathe through little noses or mouths. These insects draw in oxygen through holes in their bodies known as spiracles. There are more than two of these spiracles, they have 12. There are seven segments of the louse’s abdomen. The first six segments have 2 spiracles (the last segment has the anus and genitalia). These spiracles are tiny and oil isn’t like water; it’s thick. It may not cover each and every spiracle of each and every louse. That means some may survive the olive oil treatment. This is where combing comes in and “catches” the survivors.

On your shopping list you purchased hair clips. These are important. Some folks will just run the nit comb through the hair until they believe they have combed all the way around the head. Trust me; you’ll miss half the hiding places this way. For short-haired boys you’ll be okay just combing away. But for long-haired girls (and boys), you will need to follow these steps for effective combing:

Use one of the colors of the hair clips to separate the hair into locks. Make, what would appear like, a whole bunch of ponytails. Work lock-by-lock, selecting small portions of hair.

Pay close attention to the area above and behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. This is the warmest areas of the head and the easiest to feed from (yes...FEED FROM). So, many of the nits will be found here.

For people with thick hair, the combing should be done in layers. Making one lock of hair into a ponytail by using the clip and make another ponytail with the same color clip under the top ponytail.

Focus on one lock of hair at a time. Once you’ve combed that lock of hair, clip it with another color clip. This area is done and you can move on.

At the end, you can wash the olive oil from the hair.


Nit combing is a laborious process. It is what it is. Just plug in a movie and make a spa night out of it. The olive oil will leave the hair feeling extra clean and healthy. See...there’s a plus side to getting lice (tongue-in-cheek). It’s only 5 or 6 treatments. Keep reminding yourself of that.

Now, if you are asking yourself “why do I have to do this so many times?” My answer is this: Because you want to make sure you go from head lice to DEAD LICE. But, that’s not the essence to the question you are asking. You want to know why so many treatments are necessary, right? This will become very apparent once you read the article “all about lice.” When you know how and why, the doing becomes easier. For now, get the “attacks” completed on day one of the battle done and over with will leave you feeling confident and comfortable that you are on your way to eradication. (There’s day 2 if you did not use a pediculicide). Get the cleaning and covering done and then read the next article: All About Lice. If you understand these bugs, you’ll understand how to avoid them and how to treat them more effectively.

For example: Lice molt. Do you know what molting is? Insects have exoskeletons. Like a snake skin, they have to shed the exoskeleton (lice does this three times) before they move on to the next stage of development. The molting process “protects” the bug from the suffocating effects of the olive oil. To do the olive oil treatment once and then never again will leave the possibility of two bugs surviving and eventually finding each other and...well...ending up going on a date. If two nits survive Day 1’s “shock and awe” campaign, you’ll be right back where you are now in 30-45 days...and NO, you did not catch lice just never got rid of it in the first place.

head lice
This is a wool louse that is molting (not a head louse). Molting lice may have an air pocket to "breath" from during olive oil treatments.



RID contains pyrethrum and NIX contains permethrin. But what does that mean? Is one better than the other at killing lice and what about all those eggs?


You’ve found lice on a head in your home. WHAT THE HECK!? Okay, don’t sweat. You’ve got this. Read this LICE BATTLE PLAN and get them bugs gone!!


Learn more about lice. You have an 2-3% chance of lice coming into your home this year. The more you know about these pests the better prepared you’ll be.

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