How to Get Rid of Head Lice
When considering how to get rid of head lice, you have several different options. However, there are three vital treatment steps: combing the hair, using medications, and treating the house. It can take up to 21 days to completely get rid of head lice, so be patient and follow the treatment instructions carefully.
An Overview on How to Get Rid of Head Lice
A case of head lice in the family -- this news can send shivers down the backs of many parents and even cause unaffected people to start scratching their head. But the more you know about head lice prevention and treatment, the better off you and everyone else will be.
The first thing to know about getting rid of head lice is that there are many options. The second thing to know is that there are no guarantees that these treatments will be 100 percent effective, and data from clinical trials are not available for all treatment options.
To get rid of head lice, you must do two things: kill the live lice on the head, and remove all the nits (head lice eggs) from the hair. This involves three necessary treatment steps:
- Careful combing of the hair (nit-picking)
- Treating the house.
If head lice show up again after you treat, it is usually because nits or newly hatched head lice were not removed. This happens often, because some of the lice are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope. Treating head lice is a long process that can take up to 21 days.
Nit-Picking to Get Rid of Head Lice
The most important activity in treating head lice is nit-picking, which is careful combing of the hair with a lice comb. If you do not pick nits regularly, nothing else you do will work.
It is important to use an effective lice comb for nit-picking. Many nit-removing combs are available. Some of these fine-toothed combs come in the box of lice treatments, such as Rid® and Nix®. These combs do not seem to be effective for getting rid of head lice, however. Two combs that work very well in the removal of nits are the LiceOut™ comb and the LiceMeister™ comb.
Once you have bought a quality head lice comb, you should then perform the following steps on day one of head lice treatment:
- Allow yourself enough time to do a good job. It may take as long as an hour if the hair is long and thick. Work in good light.
- Apply one of the lice treatments as described in the following section.
- Place a towel between the hair and shoulders of the person who has head lice.
- Part the hair into four sections, and pin the hair with clips to prepare it for combing.
- Starting with one section, select a small area of hair that is about 1 inch square. Start at the scalp, and pull the comb all the way through to the ends of the hair.
- If nits remain attached to the hair shaft, comb through the hair strands again.
- Wipe the comb off with a paper towel or toilet paper after each stroke through the hair.
- Repeat these steps in the remaining three sections of hair.
- Wash the towel and clothes the person wore during the combing as described in the following section.
- Flush all of the used tissues down the toilet or seal in a garbage bag and throw away.
- If you are picking nits for more than one person at a time, pour boiling water over the nit comb, hair clips, and regular comb, and let soak for 30 seconds.
- When finished with the last person, soak all the combs and hair clips in bleach water.
- Wash hands completely when done.
Every day for the next two weeks, shampoo and follow with careful nit-picking as described. For some medicines, you may need to wait two days before shampooing and nitpicking daily.
For some medicines or alternative treatments, you may repeat the treatment 7 to 14 days later in order to catch any head lice that have hatched since the first treatment. After two weeks, continue inspecting the scalp daily for another week.