Published on October 14, 2016

How to get rid of lice

How to get rid of lice

The little bugs cause lots of frustration for parents and teachers. Here's how to get rid of them.

Each year, between 6 and 12 million kids in the United States get head lice. These 6-legged parasites live on the human head and result in lots of frustration, embarrassment and tears. The good news is that they pose no risk to your child's health. They just make heads itch.

Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed and the eggs, or nits, are even smaller. They can't fly, hop or jump. They require head-to-head contact to spread. That's why the best way to prevent children from getting lice is to remind them not to share brushes, combs, hats, scarves or pillows.

If your child does get lice, here's how to treat it:

  • Check everyone in the house for signs of adult lice or nits. Anyone infected should be treated at the same time so the lice don't get passed between people.
  • Use an over-the-counter lice-killing shampoo containing pyrethrins, a natural insecticide from chrysanthemum flowers. It may help get rid of lice, although the bugs have become more resistant to these products. Most shampoos recommend you apply the product to dry hair, wait 10 minutes, add water, lather and rinse.
  • Comb through hair in sections with a fine-toothed nit comb. You'll need to find every last nit if you want to get stop the problem from recurring.
  • Wash all bedding, towels, clothing, hats and scarves used by the person within the past 48 hours (lice can't live more than a day or two off the human head). Wash in hot water and dry on a hot setting.
  • Toss stuffed animals or other fabric toys in the dryer for at least 20 minutes. Or throw them in a sealed bag for 2 weeks.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, car seats, pillows or other fabric that may have been in contact with the affected head during the previous 48 hours.
  • Reapply the medicated shampoo 7-10 days after the first treatment. This is done to kill any nits that may have survived the first treatment before they lay eggs and add to the problem.
  • If you still spot lice after the second treatment, get a prescription treatment from your doctor.
  • If you prefer to try a home remedy, some often used include coating hair with olive oil, mayonnaise, hair gel or Vaseline and then covering hair with a shower cap overnight. These treatments are thought to suffocate lice, but there is no research to back this up.

Copyright 2016 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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