Follow these steps at the first sign of head lice. Dr Cindy Pan discusses how to detect and treat head lice. (Q) There is a head lice outbreak at my child's school. What's the best treatment? (A) First, determine whether your child or any other family members (including yourself, I'm afraid) are affected. There may be symptoms such as itchiness. However, this can take weeks to develop, so don't wait for the presence of itch to make the diagnosis. Neither can you rely on seeing little lice running around on the scalp. They are so small it is hard to see them unless you have an extremely heavy infestation. The best way to detect head lice is to saturate the hair with conditioner (any cheap, light-coloured variety will do), then meticulously comb through the hair with a good-quality, fine-toothed metal nit comb. You can buy these inexpensive combs from pharmacies. Wipe the conditioner from the comb onto white paper towel and inspect for lice or eggs. Adult lice are little dark-brown insects about two millimetres long and hatchlings are lighter brown and smaller. The eggs (known as nits) are grey-white, up to two millimetres in length and attached to the hair shaft. You need to do this in good light (ideally bright sunlight) and a magnifying glass can really help.