Head Lice (cont.)

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Which head lice medicine is best for me?

If you are unsure, please consult with your 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 your health-care professional),
  3. do not mix different head-lice medications.

How can I prevent head lice?

It's not always so easy to prevent head lice 100% of the time since it is a common infestation. Whenever possible, do not share hats or head coverings. Also avoid sharing combs and brushes with other individuals, since it can be transferred this way. If exposed to another individual diagnosed with head lice, continue to check the hair for eggs or adult lice every couple of days, but do not treat unless head lice are discovered.

Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?

No. Spraying the house is not recommended. Fumigants and room sprays can be toxic if inhaled.

Should I have a pest-control company spray my house?

No. Vacuuming floors and furniture is sufficient to treat the house.

What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?

Once diagnosed and treated effectively, the prognosis is excellent. Eradication is of course the goal, and occasionally retreatment and alternative treatments are needed. Always consult your health-care professional if you need advice.

Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, MD, MBA, FAAFP; Diplomat American Board of Family Medicine

Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Lice, Scabies and Your Skin


American Academy of Pediatrics. "Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)." Red Book, 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009.

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

Feldmeier, H. "Pediculosis Capitis: New Insights Into Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Treatment." Eur J Clin Microbiolo Infect Dis. Mar. 2012.

Frankowski, Barbara and Joseph A. Bocchini Jr. "Clinical Report: Head Lice, a Policy Update." Pediatrics 126.2 Aug. 2010: 392-403.

Gunning, K., K. Pippitt, B. Kiraly, and M. Sayler. "Pediculosis and scabies: treatment update." American Family Physician 86.6 Sept. 2012: 535-541.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Head Lice." May 16, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014

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