The Treatment and Prevention of Head Lice

When your kids start school, they instantly become at risk for getting head lice, which they may then spread to other people in your household. Head lice can occur at any time but are most common in the fall when kids go back to school, as well as in January, according to Patricia Brown, M.D., a dermatologist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While many people believe that poor hygiene is the cause of head lice, the truth is that direct head-to-head contact with a head lice sufferer is how they spread. Head lice are only ever found on humans so your pet will be safe.

Discovering and Treating Head Lice

Head lice are generally about the size of a sesame seed, tan or grayish-white in color, and feed on human blood. They attach to the skin and lay eggs known as nits in the hair.

The best way to check for lice is to part the hair in a number of different spots. Using a bright light and magnifying glass will help you find them. Head lice move fast so you may have more luck tracking down the eggs. The nits have the appearance of dandruff, but when you pick up a strand of hair close to the scalp, the nits will stay in place, unlike dandruff, which is easily removed.

The FDA had approved head lice treatments that are available over the counter (OTC), as well as in prescription form. They often come as creams, lotions, and shampoos, with Nix and Rid among the most common. If you are using a product on a child under the age of 2, Brown says that it is important to carefully read the label to ensure that it is indeed safe to use.

Head Lice Prevention Tips

  • Make sure that your children know that they should avoid head-to-head contact at home, school, and when out playing with other kids
  • Teach little ones not to share items that they use on their head, which includes hats, scarves, helmets, bandanas, hair ties, brushes, and combs
  • Steer clear of items that have come into contact with someone who has head lice. This includes items like carpets, pillows, beds, and stuffed toys
  • Steer clear of items that contacted the head of a person with head lice 48 hours prior to the start of treatment

How to Safely use Treatment Products

Using the following steps will help you use head lice treatment products safely:

  • Once the product has been rinsed from the hair and scalp, use a nit comb to remove lice and nits that are now dead
  • Only apply products to the hair on the scalp, not anywhere else
  • Ask your doctor for a product recommendation so that you get the perfect treatment for the age and weight of your child
  • Read the label on the product and use it exactly as described, unless you are told to do otherwise by a medical professional





Treating Head Lice

NO parent want to deal with their child having head lice.

Even though it occurs all year, head lice cases seem to increase significantly during the fall when kids return to school and again in January after the Christmas Break.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports between 6 to 12 million cases of head lice occurring each year in the United States in children between the ages of 3 and 11. Preschool children, elementary school children and children around people with lice are especially prone to getting head lice.

Despite the stereotypes, head lice are not a result of improper hygiene habits. They tend to spread by direct head-to-head contact with others who have head lice. Also, you can’t get head lice from pets because they only feed on humans.

Blood-Sucking Bugs

Head lice look like tan, white or gray sesame seed-size bugs that latch on the skin of the head and lay eggs in the hair.

Part your child’s hair to see if your child has lice. A magnifying glass will reveal them—especially the nits. Since the bugs are always on the move, you can spot them by the presence of nits. These nits look a lot like dandruff but are not movable like dandruff is when you pick up a hair strand and run your fingernail across the area.

Head Lice Prevention Strategies

  • Teach your children about preventing heat-to-head contact while playing and interacting and about avoiding sharing headgear with other children (like sharing hats, scarves, towels, combs, brushes, bandannas, hair ties and bows, headphones, helmets and other sports uniform items.
  • Disinfect combs and brushes used by a person with head lice by letting them soak in hot water (at least 130°F) between 5–10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on pillows, carpets, beds, couches or stuffed animals that have been used by a person with head lice.
  • Items infected by people with head lice need to cleaned within 48 hours before treatment has begun. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items using hot water (130°F) and a high temperature drying heat cycle. Get items that can’t be washed dry-cleaned or sealed in plastic and put away for two weeks.
  • All furniture and floors where the person may have laid down or sat need to be vacuumed. Keep in mind that the lice cannot feed off a scalp, they will die within one to two days.
  • You don’t have to use insecticides to control the spread of lice.

After a week of head lice treatment has passed, check everyone in the house for any remaining lice. If more are found, consult a health care provider for further suggestions.

Head Lice Treatment Options

Your doctor will likely recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) head lice treatment that kills lice and some of the eggs. These head lice treatment medications may not kill recently laid eggs. Therefore, an appropriately timed second treatment is usually necessary to kill nymphs after they hatch but before they become adult lice.

In some geographic regions, lice have developed resistance to OTC medications. Also, OTC treatment may fail because of incorrect use, such as not repeating the treatment at an appropriate time.

If the correct use of an OTC treatment has failed, the next head lice treatment option is a prescription remedy. The truth is, while these pesticides may get rid of lice, they are also being absorbed by the skin. As you may well imagine, this can cause a number of negative side effects – from skin irritation, redness and swelling to breathing difficulties or asthmatic episodes – and that’s just from regular, recommended use! These treatments have caused vomiting, seizures, even death.

Natural head lice treatment can be fantastic for both acute cases of lice and chronic recurrent never-ending cases of nits. You can count on the natural head lice treatment products to quickly, safely remove lice and nits without the use of poisons and pesticides. Instead, the natural remedies use the finest grade homeopathics and aromatherapeutic oils to relieve and soothe itchy irritated scalps.

Head Lice

Head lice. Every parent’s nightmare.

A year-round problem, the number of cases seems to peak when the kids go back to school in the fall and again in January, says Patricia Brown, M.D., a dermatologist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

An estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in the United States in children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head lice are most common among preschool children attending child care, elementary school children, and household members of children who have lice.

Contrary to myth, head lice are not caused by poor hygiene, Brown says. They are spread mainly by direct head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice. You cannot get head lice from your pets; lice feed only on humans.

Lice don’t fly or jump; they move by crawling. But because children play so closely together and often in large groups, lice can easily travel from child to child, especially when they touch heads during playing or talking.

Blood-Sucking Bugs

Head lice are blood-sucking insects about the size of a sesame seed and tan to grayish-white in color. They attach themselves to the skin on the head and lay eggs (nits) in the hair.

According to Brown, you can check for head lice or nits by parting the hair in several spots. You can use a magnifying glass and a bright light to help spot them. Because head lice can move fast it may be easier to spot the nits. Nits can look like dandruff, but you can identify them by picking up a strand of hair close to the scalp and pulling your fingernail across the area where you suspect a nit. Dandruff will come off easily, but nits will stay firmly attached to the hair, Brown explains.

FDA-approved treatments for head lice include both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, such as Nix and Rid, in the form of shampoos, creams and lotions. “Many head lice products are not for use in children under the age of 2, so read the label carefully before using a product to make sure it is safe to use on your child,” Brown says.

Although OTC drugs are available for treatment of head lice, Brown says your health care professional may prescribe drugs recently approved by the FDA, such as Ulesfia (approved in 2009), Natroba (approved in 2011) or Sklice (approved in 2012).

Steps for Safe Use

Follow these steps to use any head lice treatment safely and appropriately:

  • After rinsing the product from the hair and scalp, use a fine-toothed comb or special “nit comb” to remove dead lice and nits.
  • Apply the product only to the scalp and the hair attached to the scalp—not to other body hair.
  • Before treating young children, talk with the child’s doctor or your pharmacist for recommended treatments based on a child’s age and weight.
  • Use medication exactly as directed on the label and never more often than directed unless advised by your health care professional.
  • Use treatments on children only under the direct supervision of an adult.

Heading Off Head Lice

  • Teach children to avoid head-to-head contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playgrounds, slumber parties, and camps).
  • Teach children not to share clothing and supplies, such as hats, scarves, helmets, sports uniforms, towels, combs, brushes, bandanas, hair ties, and headphones.
  • Disinfest combs and brushes used by a person with head lice by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with a person with head lice.
  • Clean items that have been in contact with the head of a person with lice in the 48 hours before treatment. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items using hot water (130°F) and a high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for two weeks.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the person with lice sat or lay. Head lice survive less than one or two days if they fall off the scalp and cannot feed.
  • Do not use insecticide sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
  • After finishing treatment with lice medication, check everyone in your family for lice after one week. If live lice are found, contact your health care professional.