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How to Prevent and Treat Lice

How to prevent and treat lice

The prevention and treatment of head lice can be a difficult task to undertake. If you have school aged children, chances are good that at some point and time they are going to be exposed to head lice or possibly get them. Head lice are not necessarily a sign of poor personal hygiene. More often than not, infestation is simply from exposure. Symptoms of lice are itching and scratching head or infected areas, small white eggs attached to the hair close to the scalp and even a small yellowish clear colored bug (an adult) itself. Each adult will lay approximately 100 eggs per day. Eggs and nits (baby lice) must be removed with a fine toothed comb or lice comb. Prevention is really based on luck. The following are a few ways to prevent getting head lice.

1. Never share hats, combs or brushes
2. Try to keep your winter hats and coats separated from strangers (this is difficult in a school classroom environment due to limited space)
3. Run coats and hats through the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat if you are not sure if they have come in contact with infested clothing
4. Boil brushes and combs in water for 20 minutes if they are in question
5. Check your child’s head weekly (start at the nap of the neck)

Treatment can be very time consuming but defiantly necessary. There are many products out on the market to treat head lice. There are shampoos, gels, and sprays. These products can be used on other types of lice as well. WARNING: Most of these products contain pesticides! There is no research on the long term effects. Be careful. Health food stores carry a line of natural products that have no pesticides in them. These are recommended. If these treatments don’t work, there are also several types of ultrasonic combs on the market that also can be effective.

It is also necessary to treat your home for lice once an infestation has been identified. All bedding, clothing, stuffed animals and carpeting should be treated. Household sprays for lice work well. All clothing should be washing and dried at high temperatures for at least 20 minutes. Bagging stuffed animals in plastic and sealing them for 2 weeks also works well. Buying new mattresses is expensive but maybe the only way to rid the infestation. Mattresses can also be wrapped in plastic to help prevent infestation.

There are a few home remedies that work well and are not as costly. Check out just a few of the following.

1. Mayonnaise and a plastic shower cap. Cover head with mayo and place bag over hair for 6 hours. Then wash.
2. Baby oil can also be used the same way.
3. Vaseline is also good and a fine toothed comb.


Lastly, if nothing else works, BLEACH! Using a hair coloring kit that contains bleach will always get rid of head lice. You may not want to be blonde but you can always change it back to your natural color later.

Be relentless about treatment, it may take more than one treatment with most of the over the counter products, but it is worth it. If the problem persists contact your physician, he may want to put the infested person on an oral medication.