Head Lice (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

My child has head lice. I don't. Should I treat myself to prevent being infested?

No. Although anyone living with an infested person can get head lice, you don't need to be treated. Check household contacts for lice and nits every two to three days. Treat if lice and nits are found.

Should my pets be treated for head lice?

No. Head lice do not live on pets.

My child is under 2 years of age and has been diagnosed with head lice. Can I treat my child with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?

No. For children under 2 years old, remove nits, nymphs (immature adult lice), and adult lice by hand, and see your health-care professional.

What OTC medications are available to treat head lice?

Many head lice medicines are available at your local drugstore. Each OTC product usually contains one of the following active ingredients:

  1. Pyrethrins (often combined with piperonyl butoxide, in brand name products: A-200, Pronto, R&C, RID, Triple X): Pyrethrins are natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. Though safe and effective, pyrethrins only kill crawling lice, not unhatched nits. A second treatment is recommended in seven to 10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. Treatment failures are common.
  2. Permethrins (NIX): Permethrins are similar to natural pyrethrins. Permethrins are safe and effective and may continue to kill newly hatched eggs for several days after treatment. A second treatment may be needed in seven to 10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. Treatment failures are common.
  3. Dimethicones (silicone oils, Hedrin, NYDA) coat surfaces and act as a physical barrier asphyxiating the louse and have been shown to be variably effective in studies depending upon the formulation.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Head Lice - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with head lice infestation (pediculosis).
Head Lice - Treatments Question: What treatment was effective for your head lice?
Head Lice - Signs and Symptoms Question: What were the signs and symptoms experienced with head lice in you or a relative?
Head Lice - Prevention Question: What methods have you used to prevent head lice infestation? What do you tell your children?
Head Lice - Home Remedies Question: Please share effective home remedies for head lice. Who in your household was treated?

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!