How To Get Rid Of Lice

by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Head lice are parasites living on the human scalp that feed off on their blood. They cause severe irritation and itchiness, which can lead to infections in many cases.

These insects tend to cling to the hair strands, and removing them can be a challenge. But fret not – the right home remedies and treatments should relieve you of their menace faster than you expected. Here, we discuss the best ways you can remove head lice and how to prevent them in the first place.

How Do You Remove Head Lice?

Depending on the number of lice one has and their skin type and allergies, there are several ways to remove head lice. Mentioned below is one among the easiest methods:

1. Check For Hair Lice

Most hair lice treatment options tend to contain some pesticides. While they are not inherently dangerous, it is always better to use them sparingly. It also is important to determine you actually have head lice and are not mistaking it for some other hair issue (like dandruff).

  • Start by thoroughly drenching your hair and sitting directly under bright light, either in the sunlight or under a bright lamp.
  • With the help of a rat-tailed comb, divide your hair into thin sections and pay close attention to your scalp. Lice are grayish-brown insects that can be spotted easily.
  • Search for lice eggs or nits. These eggs attach themselves to the hair strands.
  • Removing the substance and pressing it between your gloved fingers can help you differentiate lice eggs from dandruff. If you hear a faint, sharp sound, you are holding an egg. If not, you probably have dandruff.

Step 2. Shampoo Your Hair

The easiest way to get rid of hair lice is by washing your hair with a delousing shampoo. This product contains mild pesticides that help kill the lice.

If you notice eggs in your hair, we recommend using ovicides – a type of shampoo specifically designed to kill both the lice and their nits.

That said, ovicides are not recommended for individuals with:

  • Dry, flaky scalps
  • Sensitive scalps with a history of allergies
  • Injured scalps that are either bloody or crusty

If you have any of the aforementioned issues, check with your doctor before applying any product to your hair.

Step 3. Remove The Lice And Nits

  • With the help of a rat-tailed comb, divide the hair into several thin horizontal sections, starting from the crown and ending at the back of the head.
  • Run a fine-tooth nit comb through each section of your hair.
  • Clean out the dead lice and eggs from the comb before moving onto the next section.

Repeat this process at least thrice before your next hair wash.

Step 4. Repeat The Process

Repeat the shampoo-and-combing process all over again. Be sure to wash your clothes after each step to keep any fallen nits from entering your hair again. But if the lice persist even after two hair washes, we suggest you visit a doctor.

While using a delousing shampoo is the most effective method of lice removal, several people may not have access to it. Read the next segment to find out how you can get rid of head lice naturally.

Removing Head Lice And Eggs Naturally

Unsurprisingly, you can also kill head lice with several products at home. Some of them are as follows:

1. Anise Oil

Anise oil is considered effective in removing head lice and nits in children (1). The liquid works by suffocating the lice and killing them. This herbal oil is also believed to help prevent lice re-infestation.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil may also help remove head lice in ways similar to anise oil (1) By suffocating the head lice, this oil may help prevent re-infestation. People typically use a mixture of anise and olive oils for better results.

3. Coconut Oil

While not as effective as anise or olive oils, coconut oil is also a good solution to one’s head lice woes. Researchers compared the effectiveness of coconut oil with other over-the-counter medications. According to the results, coconut oil had an 80% effectiveness rate, whereas delousing shampoos had a 97.9% effectiveness rate (2).

Now that you know how to get rid of hair lice naturally, let us move on to medical treatments.

When Is Medication The Most Effective Way To Get Rid Of Head Lice?

As of today, delousing shampoos and lotions are undoubtedly the best methods to get rid of head lice. We, therefore, recommend using them before trying any other home remedy.

There are two types of over-the-counter delousing shampoos available on the market. They are:

1. Pyrethrins Delousing Shampoo

This delousing is made of an extract of chrysanthemums. It falls under a class of medication called pediculicides. The product can be used on individuals who are above the age of 2 years.

Typically, this shampoo needs to be used twice, seven days apart, to ensure the newly hatched lice are also killed. Do note, however, that this product is not meant for those who are allergic to ragweed and chrysanthemums.

2. Permethrin Lotion

A major drawback of the Pyrethrins delousing shampoo is that it can only kill the lice and not their eggs. As an alternative, many people opt for Permethrin Lotion, which eliminates the lice as well as their nits. It is safe for anyone over 2 months old.

This product does not wash off easily and instead leaves some residue on the hair. This, in turn, kills the newly hatched insects, thereby eliminating the infestation completely.

That said, do note that your regular shampoo and conditioner may impact the effectiveness of this product. Therefore, you must re-apply the lotion after 10 days to completely eliminate lice infestation.

The Pyrethrins delousing shampoo and Permethrin lotion can be used on children. But many doctors recommend avoiding the application of medical treatments on any child under the age of two years. They instead suggest different herbal oils such as anise, coconut, and Olive to eliminate the infestation.

Consistently maintaining your hair is the best way to rid yourself of head lice and avoid re-infestation. Read the next segment to know more.

Post-Treatment Care For Head Lice

To avoid re-infestation, make sure you do the following:

  • Comb out the dead lice or nits 8 hours after you apply the treatment.
  • Soak all the combs, clips, and other products you use in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. This will ensure all the nits are killed.
  • Wash your used clothes in either hot water or put them in the washing machine to kill the nits and insects that may have fallen on them.
  • Do not shampoo your hair for 2 to 3 days after using the product. This will give the treatment more time to work on your hair.
  • Check for nits and lice once every three weeks. If you find any, take corrective action immediately to avoid re-infestation.

Bear in mind that these treatments may not always give you the best results. What should you do in that case?

What If The Treatments Do Not Kill The Head Lice Fast?

In certain cases, over-the-counter treatments may not work. The reasons could be:

  • The lice are too strong
  • You have not followed the right usage instructions
  • You have not applied the product at the right time

At this point, it is wise to approach your doctor to conduct a basic hair evaluation. They will either show you how to efficiently eliminate head lice with the help of other over-the-counter treatments or prescribe stronger medications.

You can also prevent lice infestations with a few tips and tricks. Read the next section.

Ways To Prevent Head Lice

1. Do Not Share Personal Belongings

For the most part, lice can move from scalp to scalp through their personal belongings (especially those used on the head). Hence, limit the number of personal items you share with others. These include:

  • Caps
  • Helmets
  • Clothes
  • Earphones
  • Combs
  • Jewelry and hair accessories

2. Use Appropriate Hairstyles

Hair-to-hair contact enables the lice to move from one scalp to another. Thus, you must contain your hair as much as possible. You can do this by braiding your locks and applying some styling spray to hold your strands in place.

3. Oil Your Hair

Oils such as coconut, olive, and anise protect your hair against infestation by suffocating the lice. Applying oil to your hair regularly may also prevent its spread.

In Closing

Head lice refer to the parasites that live on the human scalp and feed off their blood. Some of the best natural ways to kill head lice and their eggs are to apply herbal oils. You may also use various over-the-counter products to eliminate lice. Most importantly, limiting the use of shared personal items and using the right hairstyles may help prevent lice infestation altogether. Regularly maintain your hair – and we are sure you will be happy with the results.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.
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