Lice Treatment at Home

It’s autumn. Your kids are back at school. They’re playing with other children, sharing toys and clothes. And they’re coming into contact with cold germs, flu bugs and — yes — even head lice. About 10 million cases of head lice occur each year in the United States, and 75 percent of them are in children under 12. Lice infestations often occur in epidemics, especially during the back-to school months. So, you will need to a way for lice treatment at home.

Don’t feel dirty— lice don’t discriminate

Contrary to popular belief, lice aren’t discriminating creatures. They can affect anyone, regardless of cleanliness or income. There’s absolutely no truth to the myth that only “dirty” people get head lice. In fact, lice are more likely to attack clean hair than dirty hair.
Because head lice are passed from person to person by direct contact, children are at a greater risk.

They play in close contact and often share things that can pass the lice, such as combs, brushes, caps, scarves, baseball helmets, radio or computer headphones and pillows.

Conduct a head inspection

An itchy scalp is the first clue that your child may have lice. Part your child’s hair, shine a bright light on her scalp, and carefully inspect her head. It’s difficult to spot the lice themselves, so you may have better luck looking for their eggs, known as nits. Nits are usually found on hair near the neck, behind the ears and on the crown of the head. They appear white and look like dandruff, but, unlike dandruff, they can’t be shaken off.
If your child has lice, immediately check all other family members for signs of lice. All infested family members must be treated at the same time so that the lice don’t come back.

Use a fine-toothed comb and special shampoo

There is some good news: You’ll find effective, easy remedies for lice as nearby as your corner drugstore. Here’s what the experts recommend:

  • A permethrin cream rinse is the treatment of choice for head lice. It keeps working for up to 14 days, continuing to kill any lice that hatch after you apply it.
  • Pyrethrin shampoos are also recommended. They produce “cure rates” comparable with permethrin, but it takes a second application to get the same results.

There is only one permethrin product — Nix — but there are several pyrethrin products with well-known brand names — A 200, Tisit and RID, to name a few. These products are all available over the counter. Your pharmacist can help you determine which product is best for your needs.

Use these products exactly as directed. After rinsing out the medication, carefully comb your child’s hair to make sure you remove any nits not killed by the medication. Most of these products are packaged with a fine-toothed comb. (Also pay particular attention to the package warnings. Don’t use the products on children with allergies, and don’t get any medication in your child’s eyes.)

Stay away from old family remedies

Many old lice remedies are dangerous. Don’t use gasoline, kerosene, sulfur, larkspur lotion, garden insecticides or dog lice/flea shampoos!

Delouse your house

Once you’ve treated your child, it’s time to tend to your household. Wash and dry all washable objects that have come into contact with your child’s head — this includes hats, clothes, scarves, bed linens and towels. These should be washed on the hottest cycle for at least 20 minutes.

Anything that can’t be washed, like stuffed toys or coats, should be dry-cleaned or vacuumed thoroughly. Combs and brushes should be soaked in hot water (over 130 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes. Upholstered furniture and carpets must be vacuumed to remove any hairs with attached nits or lice that may have fallen out.

You don’t have to treat your pets. They don’t carry human lice.

Bag up all teddy bears

Lice can’t live off the host for more than 48 hours, and nits hatch in eight days. So all clothing, toys (especially stuffed animals) and other items that can’t be washed or dry cleaned should be placed in a plastic bag and sealed for 14 days.

Be a regular nit-picker

Inspect your child and all other family members daily for at least seven days after the lice treatment. If you see lice after seven days, try a second treatment. It’s a good idea to continue frequent head checks even after your lice problem has disappeared. It’s easier to get rid of lice if you catch them early.

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