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Christie Baldwin
Christie Baldwin, Internet researcher
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 22
Experience:  Bachelor's Degree, minor in health education
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How do you know that a nit is dead or alive They are ...

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How do you know that a nit is dead or alive? They are telling people at my daughter's school that if they move up and down easily on the piece of hair that it is dead if not it is still alive. My daughter was treated over 17 days ago and they found one egg about a good 5 inches from her scalp that won't budge and sent her home, this was during a routine 7 day check.
most viable nits will be found within 1/4 inch of the scalp. If remaining nits are greater than ½ inch out on the hair shafts, and no live lice have been seen for two weeks, the infestation is likely gone.

The 'quarter of an inch' idea comes from the premise that since hair grows 'about' a quarter of an inch per week and since nits hatch out after 7-10 days, then any nits further than 1/4" or so away from the scalp have probably been there about a week and so may have hatched out. The lice lay the egg casings pretty close to the scalp (where it's warm) so obviously the closer to the scalp you find the nit, the more likely it is to be viable. Also, if you find one pretty far out on the hair shaft, it's almost a sure thing that it's an old one. The color is a good indicator... the lighter the color, the more probable it is that it's empty.

All the information that I've found suggests that the viability of the egg is determined more by location on the hair than how firmly it is attached, so it's probably reasonable to assume the nit found on your daughter's head was dead.

The school was most likely trying to be "safe rather than sorry", though it's a shame if they couldn't find another nit on her head, they didn't just remove the one they found and let her stay in school. I am posting an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics and their position on these "no-nit" policies. Perhaps you may want to share this article with your daughter's school nurse.
Christie Baldwin, Internet researcher
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 22
Experience: Bachelor's Degree, minor in health education
Christie Baldwin and 6 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
In my previous answer, it stated that someone else agreed with the online expert. I would like to get others points of view. I live in a very rural area very the people just seem to have limited info. They have a parent coming in to check whom they say is a qualified nurse, but up until 2 months ago she was a florist. I just would like to be armed with as much info from as many sources as possible. I am from a much larger metropolitan area and when I grew up we didn't have this ongoing issue like we seem to here. My child is top in her class and all of a sudden missing way too much school and I find this unacceptable!!!
Having had three children go through this same issue myself, I agree with the above expert's post. My suggestion is you print out this page, along with the information in the link she provided, and show these to the nurse or school official if this becomes a problem again in the future. The school is probably taking a better safe than sorry approach, as stated in the answer, and they are sometimes a little over cautious.