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How to get rid of head lice?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Head lice are tiny bugs that live on the scalp and feed on blood. They’re most common among children aged 3 to 11 but can affect anyone. You can get them through close head-to-head contact or by sharing personal items like hats or brushes.

Signs of a head lice infestation include itching, a feeling of something moving in the hair, and small white eggs (nits) attached to the hair shafts near the scalp.

Despite what some may think, getting head lice has nothing to do with being dirty or neglectful. They’re simply a common issue, especially among kids who share close spaces like schools.

How to treat head lice

Before beginning treatment, carefully examine the scalp and hair to confirm the presence of head lice and nits. Use a fine-toothed comb or a special lice comb to part the hair and look for live lice and nits attached to the hair shafts near the scalp. Check behind the ears and at the nape of the neck, as these are common hiding spots for lice.

Step 1: Choose an effective treatment

There are various over-the-counter and prescription treatments available to kill head lice and nits. Common options include medicated shampoos, lotions, and sprays containing active ingredients like pyrethrin or permethrin. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully, and be sure to apply enough to thoroughly coat the hair and scalp.

Step 2: Apply treatment to dry hair

Most treatments are applied to dry hair, so it’s essential to start with clean, dry hair. Divide the hair into sections and apply the treatment according to the instructions provided with the product. Massage the treatment into the scalp and throughout the hair, ensuring complete coverage.

Step 3: Comb out the lice and nits

After applying the treatment, use a fine-toothed comb to comb out the dead lice and nits. Start at the scalp and comb through the hair section by section, wiping the comb on a tissue or paper towel after each pass to remove any lice or nits. Continue combing until no more lice or nits are found.

Step 4: Repeat treatment as necessary

Some treatments require a second application to ensure all lice and nits are removed. Follow the instructions provided with the product for any necessary repeat treatments. It’s essential to complete the full course of treatment to prevent reinfestation.

Step 5: Wash and dry bedding and clothing

To prevent reinfestation, wash all bedding, clothing, hats, and other items that may have come into contact with the infested person’s hair. Use hot water and high heat in the dryer to kill any remaining lice or nits.

Step 6: Check for reinfestation

After completing treatment, continue to monitor the scalp and hair for any signs of reinfestation. Check regularly for at least two weeks to ensure that all lice and nits have been removed.

Following these steps thoroughly and consistently will help to eliminate head lice and nits quickly and effectively. Remember to be patient and diligent throughout the process to ensure the best results.

Frequently asked questions about head lice

How to treat head lice at home?

Effective home remedies include applying tea tree oil or neem oil, combing out lice and nits daily, and washing bedding in hot water.

What are the best products for removing head lice?

The best products for removing head lice typically include over-the-counter medicated shampoos containing ingredients like pyrethrin or permethrin, as well as fine-toothed lice combs for thorough removal.

What natural remedies get rid of head lice?

Natural remedies such as tea tree oil, neem oil, and coconut oil are effective in getting rid of head lice. These remedies suffocate lice, while combing removes them.

A woman examines her daughter's hair for head lice

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