How to Get Rid of Lice
Head lice infestations are a common problem for school-age kids, who spread them to one another in the classroom, but anyone can get lice. Lice are annoying and unpleasant, but with diligence, you can be rid of them for good after a week or two. Body lice and pubic lice are also possible to tackle if you know what tools to use. Here are some surefire instructions on banishing lice from your home starting today.
Nurse Practitioner Luba Lee advises:"An adult head lice is roughly the size of a sesame seed. Lice eggs are oval and are usually attached to a single hair. They may appear to be the color of their host's hair, ranging from white and gray to yellow and brown."
Getting Rid of Head Lice
Choose a pediculicide (head lice treatment).Using a pediculicide is the quickest way to combat a case of head lice. Some pediculicides are formulated to kill both lice and their eggs, while others only kill crawling lice. To use a pediculicide, read the instructions on the bottle carefully.
- You can get a permethrin 1% creme rinse (such as Nix) or a Pyrethrins 0.33% shampoo or mousse (such as Rid or Pronto) over-the-counter at a pharmacy.
- You can also get a prescription pediculicide, such as Malathion 0.5% lotion (Ovide), benzyl alcohol 5% lotion (known as Ulesfia), spinosad 0.9%, or Ivermectin 0.5% topical lotion (such as Sklice)
- Have the person being treated put on old clothes and sit in the bathroom. This makes cleanup easier. Apply the treatment to the hair and scalp according to the instructions on the bottle.
- Allow the treatment to sit for the recommended amount of time. It's usually an hour or less. Don't leave the treatment on for longer than recommended. Wash out the treatment using water, not shampoo. No shampoo should be used for 2 days.
Comb out the lice with a nit comb.This step helps to hasten the treatment process if you're using a pediculicide, but you can also get rid of lice using a nit comb alone. Nit combs are handy tools that are specially designed to pull out nits (eggs) and dead lice as they are combed through the hair.
- Divide the hair into sections.
- Starting at the scalp, pull the comb from the roots to the end of a section of hair.
- Swish the comb around in a bowl of warm, soap water. This will kill the lice and their eggs; they die quickly without a source of food.
- Continue combing each section of hair until all the hair has been combed.
- Sanitize the comb by putting it in a dish of very hot water after every use. Lice and their eggs die when exposed to temperatures of 128 °F (53 °C) for 5 minutes or longer.
Wash the person's clothes and bedding.After this initial treatment, wash all clothes, sheets, pillowcases, stuffed animals, and any other fabrics the person has come into contact with in very hot water, then run them through a hot dryer. While lice don't live very long once they jump off a person's head, it's still important to wash everything so you can be extra sure someone else in the family won't get lice.
- For items that can't be soaked in hot water, like hairbrushes and hair accessories, place them in plastic bags for at least two weeks. The lice will die without air and food.
Monitor the hair for signs of life.After the initial treatment or combing, you'll need to diligently monitor the hair every 8 hours for signs of new life. Lice hatch in cycles, and it's almost impossible to get rid of all of them in one go. Do a thorough combing every 8 hours for the first 3 days. After that, continue checking the scalp every 16 hours and combing when necessary for the next 2 weeks.
- Most lice treatments require a second application after about 10 days to kill any lice that may have hatched since the initial treatment.
Use an oil treatment to help the process move more quickly.Whether you used a pediculicide or not, there are natural substances that repel and kill lice. If you're sensitive to chemicals, it's definitely worth trying this oil treatment to help naturally combat the lice.
- Melt 1/2 cup of coconut oil or warm 1/2 cup of neem oil and massage it into the hair and scalp. Both oils have antibiotic properties.
- Use the nit comb to work through the oil-treated hair. The nits should come out much more easily.
Try an apple cider vinegar treatment.This is another cheap, effective way to loosen the nits. Mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, and pour it over the person's hair and scalp. Use the nit comb on the hair; you should find them easier to remove. White vinegar may also work.
Use an essential oil spray.Certain essential oils repel lice and cause the nits to loosen more easily. Fill a spray bottle with 5 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of water. Try one or more of the following:
- Tea tree oil
Be prepared to fight a long battle.Adult lice and immature lice are pretty easy to get rid of, but their eggs (called nits) are much harder to get rid of, and it is with these that the most problems crop up. People can think that they are rid of lice, but then get another case of lice from just a couple of eggs. Constant vigilance will be necessary to win this battle.
Avoid spreading the lice to other people.Lice can spread quickly in a household. When treating someone for lice, wash all bedding, scarves, and hats with hot water, and dry clean what cannot be washed. Disinfect combs and brushes in hot, soapy water.
- Keep carpets and upholstery clean by regularly vacuuming them.
- Do not treat pets with lice treatments, as it could possibly harm or kill them.
Getting Rid of Other Types of Lice
Treat body lice.Body lice live in the seams of clothing and feed on human blood. They are larger than head lice and easy to spot on the body. They are commonly found in areas where people live in very close quarters or don't have access to bathing and washing facilities. Body lice are easy to get rid of once access to these facilities is gained.To treat body lice, do the following:
- Throw out the infested clothing. Lice can live up to a month in clothes. Instead of trying to save them, throw them out. Wash new clothing with hot water, and dry at a high temperature.
- Take regular showers or baths and use soap.
- Regularly wash clothing, bedding, and other linens.
- Pediculicides are usually not necessary to get rid of body lice.
Treat pubic lice.Pubic lice, also known as crabs, is most commonly spread through sexual contact. They spread very easily from person to person. Pubic lice can also live in areas of the body with coarse hair, like the eyebrows, ears and armpits. The lice and their nits are easily visible. There are a few ways you can get rid of public lice:
- Get an over-the-counter lotion containing 1% permethrin (such as Nix) or a mousse containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide (such as Rid or Pronto). These chemicals effectively kill the lice. Use according to the instructions on the package. Do not use them around your eyes, brows, or eyelashes.
- Remove the lice with a nit comb.
- Wash your clothes and underwear in very hot water.
- Soak combs and other items in hot water for 5 minutes.
- Shave the pubic region. Getting rid of the hair the lice cling to is effective, especially in combination with the chemical treatment.
- Monitor the area for signs of new lice. It may be necessary to undergo a second treatment.
- Inform any sexual partners from the previous month that they will need to be checked and treated.
- Only use lindane shampoo as a last resort. It's effective but studies have shown it has a negative effect on the brain.
Treat canine lice.Canine lice cannot be transmitted to humans (nor human lice to canines), but they can make your dog very uncomfortable. There are two types of canine lice: trichodectes canis, known as a chewing louse, and linognathus setosus, known as a sucking louse.
- Take your dog to the veterinarian. It's important to make sure that what your dog has is actually lice.
- Use a powder, spray or other treatment at the advice of your veterinarian.
- Wash the dog's bedding and everything he has touched in very hot water.
- Soak grooming tools in very hot water for 5 minutes.
QuestionWhat are the most effective home remedies to get rid of head lice?
Pediatrician, VideoMedicine.comPediatrician, VideoMedicine.comExpert AnswerThere are not any studies comparing one treatment to another so it is difficult to know which home remedies are best. Home remedy treatments are divided into three main categories: substances that suffocate the lice such as olive, baby and coconut oil; natural oils that kill lice like tea tree oil, and substances that directly kill the lice such as vinegar and salt.Thanks!
QuestionCan lice become immune to lice shampoo?
Pediatrician, VideoMedicine.comPediatrician, VideoMedicine.comExpert AnswerYes. The medicines that are sold over the counter use the substance permethrin to kill the lice. A large percentage of lice now carry a gene that makes them resistant to this medicine. This is why is it important to talk with a physician about all the treatment options that are available for lice. Since the growing resistance was first noted, there have been a lot of new prescription treatments created for getting rid of lice.Thanks!
QuestionDoes mayonnaise really work?
Pediatrician, VideoMedicine.comPediatrician, VideoMedicine.comExpert AnswerYes. Mayonnaise contains large amounts of oil that can suffocate the lice and possibly stop them from moving around. One downside is that mayonnaise may be "messier" than other oils such as baby oil and olive oil and may be harder to completely rinse out of your hair.Thanks!
QuestionDoes coca cola work?
Family Nurse PractitionerFamily Nurse PractitionerExpert AnswerI don’t think coca cola works for getting rid of lice. See above remedies to help you rid of lice and nits.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the fastest way to get rid of lice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry white vinegar mixed with a bit of water. It's very cheap and very accessible. If the smell doesn't bother you, give it a try. It really helps.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you get the eggs out of your hair?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApply baby oil mixed with tea tree oil to your hair and rub into your scalp and hair. Cover with plastic wrap for an hour. Then, using an extremely fine-toothed comb, comb slowly from scalp to ends of your hair to remove the nits. Wash your hair once with dish soap to help remove the oils, then follow with a regular shampooing. You will have to repeat this process in a week to ensure all the eggs are dead.Thanks!
QuestionI keep getting rid of my lice, but after a week or so, they come back. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou must do the treatment every week until you are sure you got rid of them all, because the eggs that are still in your hair don't die, but hatch every week. That's why you must wash your hair once a week and comb it daily. Also, don't forget to wash sheets and everything in contact with your hair.Thanks!
QuestionHow does a person get lice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionHow long can lice live?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHead lice can survive on a human host for approximately 30 days. They cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host. A female louse lays 3-5 eggs a day. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days and it takes another 7-10 days for the louse to mature and lay its own eggs.Thanks!
QuestionI struggled with lice last year and now I have them back. What can I do?Fallon MoonCommunity AnswerTry soaking your entire head or affected area with original Listerine for an hour. Then, wash the Listerine out of your hair and add vinegar to your hair and let it soak for an hour. Once the hour is up again, wash it all out and grab the comb. You should find that all the lice are dead from the Listerine, and the nits/eggs, come out very easily due to the vinegar.Thanks!
How to get rid of nets out of then hair
Can I eat any foods that will repel lice?
What are the differences between body lice, head lice and pubic lice?
Can I have lice all over at the same time? What treatments besides lindane are there for killing them?
What is the best shampoo to use to get rid of head lice?
- You are not dirty if you have lice - it's a common problem and anyone can get it. Check people who live/sleep/sat next to or came in contact with the person with life to make sure it hasn't spread to other people.
- Try not to borrow hair combs or brushes from someone else. You should always have your own.
- People who live with the affected person should be inspected as well.
- Vacuum everywhere beds, pillows and couches.
- Remember if you have children to bag up all stuffed toys for 3 weeks to kill any lice.
- A good way to start it by brushing the hair very often to see what comes out in the sink.
- Lice have a 7-10 day reproductive cycle, so it's a good idea to redo the combing exercise every six days or so until you are certain they've absolutely permanently disappeared.
- Use shampoo with Tea Tree Oil all year round to prevent lice.
- Blow dry hair as often as you can.
- Use any essential oil in your hair to kill lice. Sleep with it in your hair. Wash hair until all olive oil or any other oil is out.Wrap in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Don't leave small child alone with plastic bag in case they suffocate themselves.
- Read all instruction thoroughly on all lice sprays. Remember, they are pesticides, and penetrate your scalp.
- Because lice can travel from one item of clothing to another, it can be helpful to quarantine clothes that have been worn, however briefly, from those that are clean.
- This is not a one day process. Remember to treat the hair at least a week after the first treatment.
- If you think showering helps get rid of lice, it doesn't. Lice actually like clean heads.
- To prevent future infections, consider quarantining anything suspect - like a hat from the thrift store - in a sealed plastic bag for at least two weeks before letting it into your home. Avoid trying on hats at yard sales or thrift stores, or hanging your coat or hat on a hook in a public place that may be contaminated.
- Items that can't go through a dryer can be placed in black plastic bags and left in the sun for a day or so. Even if it's not that hot outside, the interior of the bag will heat up and kill the lice.
- Clean pillowcases, sheets, and blankets in hot water and do the same with brushes and combs.
- Put your hair in hot water.
- Avoid sharing hats or hair accessories with anyone.
- Check your hair every two weeks.
- Make sure that you do the steps correctly and slowly so it will work.
- If you can't use lice spray on your furniture, use huge sheets or blankets to cover them for a couple of weeks. This can be done on floors in the main areas where they tend to play also.
- Boil the Neem leaves or make a paste of Neem leaves and put it on your hair and scalp for half an hour...rinse thoroughly and comb your hair with a nit comb.
- Make a paste by grinding 10-12 neem leaves, leave on the affected areas for 15 minutes and wash with normal water.
- If you suspect there is lice on your hairbrush, put it in the freezer overnight. Lice can't live in extreme cold.
- Apply coconut milk to hair in order to nourish your hair because lice can absorb nutrients from roots, so your hair needs more nutrition. Always keep hair refreshed not allow exist heat that can make your scalp lose its strength.
- Try not to scratch your head. Although it will get itchy, if you scratch too much you could possibly make the bite worse.
- Mix 5 table spoons of RID to a full jar of Hellman's mayonnaise. Then put the whole jar on your hair, put on a shower cap, and then wait 24 hours. Then rinse.
- Use a flat iron/hair straightener over the eggs. The heat coming from the flat iron will kill the pests.
- If possible, try to keep your hair short, because it will be much easier to manage than long hair.
- Another natural product that has been found to be effective is fresh rosemary. Many effective shampoos and sprays work because lice are repelled by the smell of rosemary. A small number (2-3) sticks of fresh rosemary should be placed inside the pillowcase of each member of the household. They can be placed underneath the pillow so that they do not affect or interfere with the person trying to sleep and cannot be felt by the person. If they are left for over one week, the lice leave the hair and no further eggs are laid in the hair.
- Consider shaving your head bald with disposable clippers and razor blades. Keep your head clean and shaved for at least two weeks.
- Do not use same comb if it has spread to more than 1 person in the family.
- Do not leave anything in your hair longer than instructed. This may cause scalp damage.
- Treat hair while in the tub.
Things You'll Need
Pediculicide (lice treatment)
Any essential oil
Sources and Citations
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