Table of Contents
- Head lice facts
- What are head lice?
- How common is head lice infestation?
- Who is at risk for getting head lice?
- How in the world does a child get head lice?
- Does getting an infection with head lice mean that the person has poor hygiene?
- What do head lice look like? What is the life cycle of head lice?
- Where are head lice most commonly found?
- Head lice vs. dandruff
- What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?
- How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
- Does a black light help to diagnose lice infections?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)? (Continued)
- My child has head lice. I don't. Should I treat myself to prevent being infested?
- Should my pets be treated for head lice?
- 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?
- What OTC medications are available to treat head lice?
- What prescription drugs treat head lice?
- Are any home remedies effective at getting rid of head lice?
- Which head lice medicine is best for me?
- What are the rules with head lice medicines?
- Is it possible to prevent head lice?
- Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
- Should I have a pest-control company spray my house to get rid of lice?
- What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?
Quick GuideLice & Nits: How to Get Rid of Head Lice
What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
For effective elimination of head lice, the infested individual, family members that are also infested, and the home must all be treated. It is important to remember that treatment should only be started if there are clearly live lice identified. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics in a recent clinical report, "The ideal treatment of lice should be safe, free of toxic chemicals, readily available without a prescription, easy to use, effective and inexpensive."
Treatment of the individual and the infested family members
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications are used to treat the affected people and their families. Follow these treatment steps:
- Remove all clothing.
- Apply lice medicine, also called pediculicide, according to the label instructions. If a child has extra-long hair, one may need to use a second bottle. Warning: Do not use a cream rinse or combination shampoo/conditioner before using lice medicine. Do not rewash hair for one to two days after treatment.
- Have the infested person put on clean clothing after treatment.
- If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment but are moving more slowly than before, do not retreat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair. The medicine sometimes takes longer to kill the lice.
- If no dead lice are found and lice seem as active as before eight to 12 hours after treatment, the medicine may not be working. See a health-care professional for a different medication and follow their treatment instructions.
- Nit (head lice egg) combs, often found in lice medicine packages, should be used to remove nits and lice from the hair shaft. Many flea combs made for cats and dogs are also effective.
- After the initial treatment, check, comb, and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days.
- Retreat in seven to 10 days.
- Check all treated people for two to three weeks until you are sure all lice and nits are gone.
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/>.
4."Male human head louse" by Gilles San Martin
6."Bugbuster" by Thanks for the polite permission of the Community Hygiene Concern, Joanna Ibarra