How to Get Rid of Head Lice

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Overview

Though head lice do not cause illness of disease, nor are they considered a health threat to humans, they are contagious and parasitic, and just downright gross. Many times the bites of the louse will cause a localized allergic reaction due to sensitivity to the bud’s saliva. This will cause itchiness, sores, dandruff and other unpleasant symptoms.

Getting rid of them can be a chore as well, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick to successful lice removal is to be thorough.

Treatments

Treatments for getting rid of lice usually consist of using a medicated shampoo, cream or lotion to kill the adult lice. These preparations can be purchased over the counter (OTC) or prescribed by a physician, depending on the severity of the infestation. Prescription preparations are usually stronger and more effective than their OTC counterparts; however, they are also harsher on the skin and can have more severe side effects such as increased skin irritation.

Cautions

Though many of these products claim to kill both the adults and the nits (lice eggs), be prepared to manually remove the nits from the hair as many will survive the insecticide treatment and can reinfect the afflicted person in approximately a week, starting the process all over again.For children under the age of 2, manually removing lice and their eggs is the only recommended method of treatment.

Note that it is imperative to use each preparation as directed–for both safety and effectiveness. These compounds are pesticides and the misuse of the product can cause side effects, including skin irritation, rash and sores. Some of the active ingredients may also be absorbed into the skin.

Follow Up

It is advisable to follow up the initial treatment with a second treatment after seven to 10 days later to ensure that any surviving nits are killed. Otherwise, another infestation could occur. Also, all bed linens, clothing, stuffed animals and towels are either replaced or washed in the hottest water possible to kill any remaining lice or nits. For fabrics that cannot be washed, dry cleaning will work. Otherwise, the fabrics should be discarded. Carpets and other upholstered furniture should be thoroughly vacuumed and steam cleaned for the same reason. Where possible, hard surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with a mild bleach solution. ALL hair implements (brushes, combs, ponytail holders, etc.) should be replaced or soaked in a mild bleach solution.

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