You’ve just received that dreaded call from your kids’ school - there’s a lice infestation. What should you do? You have to learn how to get rid of lice, to save your kid from lice infestation.
Affecting 6 to 12 million kids in the US each year, the likelihood of your child suffering from head lice is high.
And to make matters worse, a strain of “super lice” is causing problems, as these pesky creatures can be resistant to over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.
However, by educating yourself on how to get rid of lice quickly and effectively, you can make sure this itchy episode is over and done within no time.
Do You Have Head Lice?
As soon as someone mentions lice, it can bring you out in a craze of itching and scratching – but what are the telltale signs that you or your child has head lice?
- Frantic itching
- Tickling sensations in your hair
- Seeing lice on clothes, the scalp, or other areas of the body
- Seeing lice eggs (also referred to as nits), which are often toward the scalp on the shaft of the hair
- Difficulty sleeping (lice are often active at nighttime)
- Becoming irritable
- Scratching that leads to sores
How to Get Rid of Lice with Over-the-Counter Treatments
To start with, you may find that OTC treatments are all you need to combat the lice infestation. Some of the most popular ones include:
This often complements another form of treatment because you need to make sure you’re thoroughly removing any lice eggs from your hair – something some products won’t get rid of.
Equally, you may find this is all you need to do to combat the infestation, as it is one of the cleanest and easiest ways to get rid of them.
Having said that, you need to be incredibly meticulous when doing this as even one missed egg could allow the infestation to take over again.
This natural extract is from chrysanthemums and is safe for children over the age of 2. Many OTC shampoos will contain this active ingredient because it will eradicate head lice, attacking their nervous systems.
However, it won’t get rid of lice eggs, which is why you’ll need to comb the hair thoroughly and repeat the application 7 to 10 days later, to make sure you’re getting rid of any lice eggs that have hatched.
Applying these products is often very straightforward and just need leaving on your hair for 10 minutes. But if the strain of lice you have is the resistant strain, these products won’t work. Pyrethrins aren’t suitable for anyone who’s allergic to chrysanthemums or ragweed.
Permethrin Lotion, 1%
As a synthetic form of pyrethrins, this works much the same as the above but also targets nits. It does this by leaving residue in your hair, which gets to work killing any hatching eggs once you’ve applied the lotion.
You need to apply it to damp hair after washing with shampoo but not conditioner before rinsing it off after 10 minutes. Always comb afterward, too.
Normal shampoo or condition may affect the treatment, which is why you should check for lice after 7 to 10 days, reapplying if necessary. These lotions are suitable for children over the age of 2 months but you should proceed with caution as they can cause allergic reactions.
Get Rid of Lice with Prescription Medication
Malathion Lotion, 0.5% (Ovide)
Should the aforementioned treatments be unsuccessful at killing your lice, your doctor may prescribe you this lotion. Not only does it kill lice but it also kills some of the nits as well.
You need to apply it to dry hair and rub deep into the roots and scalp before leaving for up to 12 hours. It needs rinsing off in the sink (avoid tubs or showers to prevent the spread of infestation) and you’ll need to comb your hair thoroughly.
You can apply a second treatment after 7 to 9 days if there are still live lice in your hair. It’s important to note, however, that Malathion isn’t suitable for children aged 6 and under. Use it under the supervision of a doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
You will also need to avoid letting your hair come into contact with any direct heat (e.g. hairdryers) as this product is highly flammable. That’s why it also comes with the risks of stinging and second-degree burns, emphasizing how important it is to follow the manufacturer’s and your doctor’s instructions.
Ivermectin Lotion (Sklice)
First introduced in 2012, this specialist product contains bacteria which is originally found in soil. It helps kill and paralyze live lice along with nits and is highly effective.
For example, during its clinical trials, researchers found one application to remove the infestation within two weeks for 75% of patients. This success rate didn’t even require combing the hair for nits. It just needs applying to dry hair and rinsing off after 10 minutes.
It’s suitable for children aged 6 months and over and comes with minimal side effects – less than 1% of the patients involved in the clinical trial noticed eye and skin irritation afterward.
Spinosad Topical Suspension, 0.9% (Natroba)
Authorities approved Spinosad, another prescription medication that contains bacteria located in the soil, for use in 2011. This too requires just one application and you don’t need to comb your hair for nits. Apply to dry hair before using water to rinse it off after 10 minutes.
It’s suitable for children aged 4 years and over, and was effective during clinical trials, particularly when compared to treatments available over the counter, e.g. permethrin.
The trial, 84% of patients had got rid of their lice infestation after 14 days, compared to 40% of those who were using permethrin.
Again, there were minimal side effects, such as skin and eye irritation in a few patients.
How to Get Rid of Lice with Home Remedies
If you’d rather try natural, homemade remedies to get rid of your lice infestation, there are a :
Some essential oils are revered when it comes to getting rid of lice.
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Certain studies have demonstrated how toxic natural oils can be for lice and nits. These include anise oil, tea tree oil, ylang-ylang oil, and Nerolidol (something that’s derived from different oils in plants). Others that are also effective are lavender and eucalyptus oils.
For example, one study found 97.6% of lice were eliminated after a course of treatment using a topical lotion that contained lavender and tea tree oil (at 1% and 10% respectively).
So even though to get these results you’ll need to use the treatments more regularly, they do offer great results, and without a lot of the potential side effects associated with medicated treatments.
Furthermore, other research has highlighted coconut oil’s effectiveness, particularly when used with anise spray. When compared to permethrin lotion, it was an effective alternative with 82% of patients getting rid of their lice compared to just 42% of those who were using permethrin.
Another huge advantage to using these essential oils is the fact that they’re far less messy (and not as smelly) as some of the other age-old techniques you may find. These include using butter and mayonnaise to “smother” the lice to death!
number of things you can do. And even if you’re using OTC or prescription medication for the lice, the latter tip will complement these perfectly.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, there is no need to fumigate your home when you or your children have lice. A lice infestation bears no relevance to how clean your home is as they don’t come from pets or outdoor environments.
That said, there are several steps you can take to make sure you’re reducing the risk of spreading the lice from person to person.
Start by sanitizing all of your combs, even the ones you’re not using to brush out nits, by washing them in soap and hot water. You could even use rubbing alcohol for added peace of mind.
And wash anything that’s been in contact with those who’ve had lice, including stuffed toys, blankets, towels, bedding, and clothes. It’s recommended to use a hot wash as well as a hot dry.
Equally, if there are certain things you can’t wash, you can put them in airtight containers or bags. If you leave them for 2 weeks before shaking them outdoors or vacuuming, this should get rid of any leftover nits and/or lice.
Finally, while lice are unable to survive away from your head for more than 24 hours, it’s a good idea to keep on top of the vacuuming. This will help ensure any hair that’s fallen from your head onto the carpet or furniture is thoroughly cleaned away.
Final Thoughts: How to Get Rid of Lice for Good
Hopefully, all of the above has helped highlight some of the most effective treatments and methods available. You should always get the advice of your doctor when using medications and should follow the instructions carefully.
It’s also important to remember that lice aren’t embarrassing, nor are they a sign that you or your kids are dirty. Lice don’t care whether your hair’s dirty or squeaky clean – but what they will mind is those effective treatments we’ve mentioned that will help get rid of them fast!