Top 9 Proven Ways to Get Rid of Head Lice

By Amanda Lawrence |
|5 min read

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice in the United States every year among children aged 3 to 11.

Lice can easily crawl, thus most infestations are from head-to-head contact. If you have lice, you might have gotten them from a family member or even a stranger you had close contact with.

Sharing hats or brushes can also cause an infestation. The most common symptom is itching. As the louse bites, it causes an itchy feeling because of the allergic reaction from the bite. However, the itchiness might not be felt immediately. This is especially true if it is only a mild infestation.

You will also probably have a feeling that there's something moving through your hair or on your head. You may get red bumps on your head, shoulders, and/or pubic area. If you ask someone to look at your head, he/she might see white objects in your hair which might be lice eggs. Symptoms may manifest six weeks after you first contract lice.

Treating Head Lice with Proven Treatments

There are many recommendations for how to get rid of head lice.

1. Home Remedies

If you wish to stick with natural treatments, you can start with wet-combing.

  • Wet-Combing

To use this method, you need to first wash your hair with an ordinary shampoo. Apply conditioner to help in detangling. After washing your hair, use a wide-toothed comb to straighten the wet hair. Next, use a lice-detection comb or a fine-toothed comb to comb through the lice-infested head. Start from the scalp and go down to the hair ends. Check for lice with every stroke and remove them from the comb. Work through every section of hair. You need to do this every day or every other day until you no longer find any lice or lice eggs.

  • Essential Oils

A dozen different essential oils can be used to deal with head lice. The most commonly used are tea tree, eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf, rosemary, and thyme. You may also add tea tree oil, olive oil, and eucalyptus oil to your ordinary shampoo. Apply oils to the lice-infested hair, and wait for an hour before washing off. Tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils are said to suffocate the lice, making it easier to remove them with wet combing.

  • Sanitize Brushes, Combs, and Clothes

Before wet-combing, make sure the tool you will be using has been properly cleaned. Wash your brushes using hot water and soap, and soak them in rubbing alcohol for one hour. Make sure to clean all of your hair-styling tools to avoid re-infestation.

  • Vacuum

During a head lice outbreak, make sure to clean and vacuum your physical surroundings thoroughly. Vacuum your bed, floors, and furniture to remove any lice-infested hair. Keep in mind that such hair could still have lice that can crawl back to your head or lice eggs that can hatch in the future.

2. Over-the-Counter Treatments

  • Piperonyl Butoxide with Pyrethrins

Are you wondering how to treat head lice with this product? Pyrethrins come from the chrysanthemum plants, and their role is to paralyze and kill the lice. Piperonyl butoxide, on the other hand, helps by preventing the breakdown of pyrethrins. This medication can get rid of the infestation after only one application. However, it can take up to 24 hours before all lice are killed.

  • Permethrin Lotion, 1% (Nix)

This product also works by killing the lice. Before you apply it, make sure to wash your hair with your regular shampoo and dry completely. After drying, apply this lotion to your hair and scalp. Let it remain in place no longer than 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Allow hair to dry, then remove remaining eggs using a fine-toothed comb.

3. Prescription Lice Treatments

  • Benzyl Alcohol (Ulesfia)

Want to learn how to treat lice with benzyl alcohol? Use it to suffocate lice, but keep in mind that it won't get rid of lice eggs. To kill the lice hatched from eggs not affected by the first application, just use this product a second time.

  • Ivermectin (Sklice)

This works the same way as benzyl alcohol does meaning it kills the lice but not the eggs. This medication paralyzes lice by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in their nervous system.

  • Malathion (Ovide)

Malathion is a medicated shampoo that can also eliminate lice but not the eggs. Apply it to dry hair and leave it there for 12 hours. Don't use it with a hairdryer because it contains a high amount of alcohol.

If these treatments don't work or if you notice side effects during application, you must consult your physician immediately.

Preventing Lice Infestation

It is quite tricky to get rid of head lice as the parasites travel quickly. That's why it is vital to prevent an infestation from occurring in the first place.

1. Be Aware of Lice Carriers

When you know who is carrying life, you can treat the carrier's head and avoid making head-to-head contact with them. make sure to throw their pillows and bedding in the dryer for 15 minutes. Doing so will effectively kill the lice AND the eggs that stick to those objects.

2. Use the Correct Hair Products

Use products with effective lice-repellent ingredients such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, citronella, and other essential oils. Lice can't stand the smell of these ingredients, then you can add these oils to your shampoo and conditioner. You can also mix them with water in a spray bottle and spray on jackets, hats, and heads to prevent a reinfestation of lice.

3. Do Routine Head Checks

Children are prone to head lice, so make sure to perform routine head checks. Even after successfully getting rid of an infestation, you should still consider regularly checking your children's hair and scalp to ensure that there are no more eggs or lice hiding in the hair.

5. Keep Brushes Separate

In other words, don't share brushes with one another. Get your children their own combs or brushes, and keep them labeled. You must also separate hair accessories. Ziploc bags work great to separate and store them.

Final Thoughts

Lice are a common parasitic problem, even for adults. The good thing is there are many ways you can get rid of them naturally. However, if natural methods don't work, try the over-the-counter treatments listed above or consult your doctor so that he can prescribe you with the correct lice treatment. Then again, it is much better to prevent them from occurring in the first place rather than having to deal with an infestation.

Here's a video that teaches you how to get rid of head lice and provides many natural ways to prevent them.



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