Head Lice

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Eddie Hooker is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and at Wright State University. His areas of expertise include emergency medicine, epidemiology, health-services management, and public health.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideLice & Nits: How to Get Rid of Head Lice

Lice & Nits: How to Get Rid of Head Lice

Are any home remedies effective at getting rid of head lice?

Occlusion therapy, nit combing, and hair removal have not been proven to be fully effective in completely eradicating head lice.

Home remedies that have been tried include vinegar, mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, olive oil, butter, rubbing alcohol, and prolonged water submersion. These all fail to eliminate infestation, because these therapies do not kill all of the eggs or lice. This is believed due to the specialized way the parasite "breathes."

Hair removal has never been proven to be effective, but since the louse requires a hair shaft to lay its eggs, it should prevent the lice from multiplying. This is not always considered a desirable option for many children.

Which head lice medicine is best for me?

If unsure, please consult with a pharmacist or health-care professional.

What are the rules with head lice medicines?

When using head lice medicine, as with any medicine, always follow the instructions provided.

When treating head lice,

  1. do not use extra amounts of the lice medication,
  2. do not treat the infested person more than two times with the same medication (if it does not seem to work, see a health-care professional),
  3. do not mix different head-lice medications.
Reviewed on 1/20/2017
References
REFERENCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)." Red Book, 30th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2015.

Chosidow, O. "Oral Ivermectin Versus Malathion Lotion for Difficult-to-Treat Head Lice." New England Journal of Medicine 362 Mar. 2010: 896-905.

Devore, C.D., G. Schutze, J. Okamoto, M. Allison, R. Ancona, E. Attisha, and M. Minier. "Head lice." Pediatrics 135.5 (2015): e1355-e1365.

Feldmeier, H. "Treatment of pediculosis capitis: a critical appraisal of the current literature." American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 15.5 (2014): 401-412.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Head Lice." Dec. 28, 2016. <https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/>.

IMAGES:

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4."Male human head louse" by Gilles San Martin

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6."Bugbuster" by Thanks for the polite permission of the Community Hygiene Concern, Joanna Ibarra

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