This question is not about head lice treatments, it's specifically about using a nit comb on a child with very curly hair, mixed ringlets and frizzy hair.

The problem I am faced with is, getting the fine tooth comb to go through the hair without pulling some of the hair out with it. I have tried using all sorts of products, from detanglers, conditioners, oils, water and I cannot find the solution. Compared to combing other children's hair, the hair loss with the comb is significantly more and this concerns me.

Is this a usual thing for curly/frizzy hair, and if it's not a medical condition for the child, what tips are there for successfully combing this type of hair for head lice?

  • 1
    If it's a boy (or even a girl, but they tend to be more averse to this suggestion) one optoin is to just get out the clippers and buzz cut it. My son has extremely thick hair and combing was a nightmare. Even he has agreed that if it happens again, we're just shaving it off.
    – DA01
    Oct 14, 2013 at 4:17
  • @DA01 yes good and valid point, I have shaved my son's heads more than once, and now they do it, as it's in fashion, but the girls.. they have waist length hair and shaving is not an option :)
    – user21179
    Oct 14, 2013 at 4:20
  • What age child? If they can comb their own hair, they might be able to avoid pulling our hair. Nov 17, 2021 at 20:57

3 Answers 3


As with all hair, combing it wet should help minimize breakage, but when using the nit comb the process is going to go VERY slowly which means the hair will dry as you go and you need to keep it wet. Adding a product to it to help keep it wet will probably help as Mary Jo Finch suggested as well as keeping straight water right there to add to hair that has started to dry. If I were tackling the problem, I would part the hair into very small sections and begin combing from the end of the hair, working my way up towards the root. Hopefully, by the time you get to the root of that section of hair, the tangles in the rest of the section will be combed out all ready and you'll minimize the breakage by not clumping all the tangles together into one giant mass. I'm pretty sure this is the approach my mom took when I had lice. I can remember sitting in the floor for hours and hours as she combed through my hair with that nit comb. Granted, my hair isn't super curly, but it's very thick and very fine and tends to tangle really easily.

If you just absolutely cannot get the comb through the hair, the CDC indicates that it is not absolutely necessary to remove the nits as long as you are prepared to do two hair treatments 9 days apart probably with a strong pesticide shampoo--not a DIY hair treatment like olive oil, mayonnaise, etc (although the CDC doesn't specify).

  • I know this question is old but I want to add a little thing to this answer in case someone needs it: If the hair is wet and maybe even conditioned the nits won't come out as easily as when dry. You can test this really easily by wetting a strand of hair and seeing how much you get out, then trying on a dry strand of hair. So you need to take more time!
    – Pudora
    Jan 2, 2017 at 13:03

Success may come from a combination of keeping the hair slick and using a technique that separates the hair into small portions to be gelled (using a humectant) and combed out separately and then pinned out of the way. The technique is described here, but could be performed with a non-commercial humectant (glycerin or aloe vera, for example). The advantage of the commercial product is that it has thickening and emulsifiers that might help the hair stay wet longer.

Bayer's Comb Out Gel contains:

  • Purified Water
  • Glycerin (a humectant - keeps things moist)
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose (a thickening agent - used to form a film on the hair)
  • PG-Hydroxyethylcellulose Cocodimonium Chloride (an antistatic agent)
  • Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier - helps the chemicals stay mixed together)
  • DMDM Hydantoin (a preservative)
  • Fragrance
  • Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate (a preservative)

I do head lice removal for a living. The best is washing the hair with warm water the shampoo and conditioner. Then I would use a lice comb but make sure to keep adding heavy amount of conditioner so that it will go through the hair easier. It's hard not to pull hair out b/c you do no matter what. Hope that helps answer your question.

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