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Treatment options for head lice
Treatment Options for Head Lice
What to do if a family member gets head lice?
1. Kill the lice
2. Remove all nits
3. Remove lice from the environment ( environmental cleanup)
4. Follow-up and repeat as needed.
1. Kill the lice
-Petroleum Gel Other
-Lice Free IMPORTANT CAUTIONS:
1. Use a different towel for each step of the treatment and for each person treated.
Dry all towels (on high heat
in the dryer) for 20 minutes after use. Then
the towel in hot water.
2. Inspect the hair of the treated person.
DO NOT USE:
Household lice killing sprays (don’t work)
Any insecticidal sprays (e.g. Raid – toxic to children)
Elimite (not a recommended use)
Kerosene or other flammable liquid (may cause severe burns)
Any product not according to directions
1 – HAIR GEL
The hair gel needs to be “firm hold”
; some examples include:
Dippity-Do styling gel Dep 8 – level 8 ultimate hold L.A. Looks #5 – mega mega hold
Available in any store that sells hair products.
1. Wash child’s hair with regular shampoo (throw the towel in the dryer for 20
minutes on high heat after drying the child’s hair).
2. Remove all nits as discussed under nit removal section. 3. Put enough hair gel on hair to cover all hair and the scalp. Let harden. Make sure
you have enough gel on the hair and scalp to cover it.
4. Child goes to sleep with the hardened gel on the hair. 5. Wash child’s hair upon awakening. 6. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after
7. Repeat cycle for 10-14 days. 8. On non-school days, put the gel on in the morning. Leave on all day. Wash hair
before supper and repeat gel treatment at bedtime.
2 –MAYONNAISE TREATMENT (i.e. 100% real mayonnaise)
In addition you will need:
Plastic bag or
Hair clips or scotch tape
1. Use 100% real mayonnaise. Do not use light, low fat, fat-free, or even salad
2. Apply generously to hair, making sure the hair and scalp are saturated. 3. Pile hair on head, if needed, and cover with a close-fitting shower cap or cut
plastic bag and wrap around the head like a turban. Use scotch tape or hair clips to keep on the head. Leave cap or bag on for four (4) hours, but eight (8) hours is best.
4. Remove the shower cap and wash hair lightly to get out mayonnaise. 5. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after
6. Remove all nits as discussed under Nit Removal Section. 7. Wash hair thoroughly with shampoo and pick out any remaining nits. 8. Keep checking and removing nits daily. 9. Repeat treatment every day or every other day for 2 weeks.
3 -OIL TREATMENT (i.e. Vegetable oil, olive oil, mineral oil) In addition you will need: Shower cap OR Plastic bag Hair clips or scotch tape Vegetable, olive or mineral oil Treatment steps
1. Part hair and apply directly to head, saturating the hair and scalp.
2. Pile hair on head, if needed, and cover with a close-fitting shower cap OR cut
plastic bag and wrap around the head like a turban. Use scotch tape or hair clips to keep on the head. Leave cap or bag on for at least four (4) hours, but eight (8) hours is best.
3. Remove all nits as discussed under the Nit Removal Section. Leave oil in hair for
4. Wash hair thoroughly with shampoo and pick out any remaining nits. 5. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after
6. Keep checking and removing nits every day. 7. Repeat treatment every day or every other day for 2 weeks.
4 -PETROLEUM GEL TREATMENT (i.e. Vaseline) In addition you will need: Shower cap OR Plastic bag Hair clips or scotch tape Baby oil, Palmolive dish soap, OR Dawn dish soap Petrolatum gel (i.e. Vaseline) Treatment steps 1. Apply petrolatum gel generously (approximately two ounces to the hair, making sure the hair and scalp are saturated). 2. Pile hair on head, if needed, and cover with a close-fitting shower cap OR cut plastic bag and wrap around the head like a turban. Use scotch tape or hair clips to keep on the head. Leave cap or bag on for at least four (4) hours, but eight (8) hours are best. 3. Remove the shower cap and rinse hair with baby oil to get out most of the petrolatum gel OR wash hair with Palmolive or Dawn dish soap to remove 4. Wash hair with shampoo to remove most of the remaining petrolatum gel. 5. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after drying the child’s hair). 6. Remove all nits as discussed under the Nit Removal Section. 7. Wash hair thoroughly with shampoo to remove the remaining petrolatum gel 8. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after drying the child’s hair). 9. Check and remove nits daily. 10. Repeat treatment every day or every other day for 2 weeks.
In one study it was found that when lice were exposed to “permethrin” (the active
ingredient in most products), 90% of the lice survived. No chemical product kills 100%
of lice and nits. Nit removal is the most effective. Prevention is based on combing and
cleaning. When using over-the-counter products, it is important to carefully follow the
directions as described on the product package.
even successfully treated lice may live up to 24 hours after treatment was
conducted. If after repeating the treatment the infestation persists, consult your health
care provider. To avoid potential toxic reactions in people, repetitive use of OTC
head lice control products is not recommended.
General instructions for over-the-counter (OTC) lice treatment shampoo.
1. Apply the single dose bottle of OTC shampoo directly to dry hair and scalp,
without adding water. Thoroughly work the shampoo into the hair from roots to ends until all the hair is treated. Leave it on the hair for 10 minutes.
2. Rinse with warm water and shampoo as usual. 3. Towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after
4. Remove all nits and any live lice as discussed under the Nit Removal Section. 5. A second treatment must be done in 7-10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. 6. Do not use hair conditioners, detanglers, hair spray or gel for at least a week after
treatment. If you wash the hair during this time, use a shampoo that does not contain conditioners.
General instructions for over-the-counter (OTC) lice treatment crème rinse.
1. Wash the hair using any shampoo that does not contain conditioners. 2. Dry the hair thoroughly (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat
3. Apply single dose bottle directly to the hair. Work thoroughly into the hair from
the roots to ends until all the hair is treated. Leave it on for a full 10 minutes.
4. Rinse well and towel dry hair (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high
5. Remove all nits and any live lice as discussed under the Nit Removal Section. 6. A second treatment is recommended in 7-10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. 7. Do not use hair conditioners, detanglers, hair spray or gel for at least a week after
treatment. If you wash the hair during this time, use a shampoo that does not contain conditioners.
Prescription Shampoos Follow pharmacy label instructions.
LICE FREEE –
for external use ONLY
Available over-the-counter at most pharmacies and discount stores
wet or shampoo hair before using this product.
Keep out of eyes! Do NOT
apply to eyebrows or eyelashes.
Apply product to dry hair and entire scalp, starting at the nape of the neck and behind ears and work forward. Thoroughly saturate all hair and scalp. To be effective, all lice and nits must come in full contact with the product.
Cover with a close-fitting shower cap OR cut plastic bag and wrap around the head like a turban. Use scotch tape or hair clips to keep on the head and leave on for at least 1 hour. For best results stay in a warm room. Lice die in ½ hour, nits die in 1 hour.
With product STILL
in the hair, remove plastic cap and comb out all dead
lice and nits with enclosed nit comb. Rinse comb out under running water and
repeat until all lice and nits are combed out.
Once all lice and nits are combed out, rinse hair thoroughly with warm water.
Thoroughly inspect and comb hair and scalp a second time to assure complete removal of all lice and nits.
A second treatment SHOULD
be done in 7-10 days to kill any newly hatched
2. Removing the Nits
Removal of viable nits after treatment is an important supplement to the use of OTC head
lice control products and suffocants. Nits DO NOT fall off the head after treatment,
rather they need to removed from the hair shafts. Nits are shaped like tear drops along
the side of the hair, and are usually found at the nape of the neck and around the ears and
crown of the head.
General Instructions for Nit Removal
1. Select a comfortable area with strong overhead lighting to facilitate inspecting the
2. Finger nails, a small fingernail scissors to snip the nit and hair from the head, or a
head louse removal comb (metal is more effective) should be used for nit removal.
3. Lift a one-inch wide tuft of wet/or dry hair for louse/nit inspection. If using a
louse comb, place the comb as close to the scalp as possible, and comb away from the scalp to the end of the hair tuft. Wipe the comb with a tissue to remove any nits. A toothpick may also be used to separate the hair for easy inspection.
4. Hair clips may be used to pin back the sections of the hair you have completed,
and keep them separated from the inspected hair. Continue the systematic inspection until all hair has been checked.
5. Wash hands, nails, and any tools thoroughly. 6. Vacuum area thoroughly.
*Note* any live lice found during the inspection should also be removed with fingernails,
comb or scissors. The infested person’s head should be checked regularly for two weeks
following lice control product treatment to ensure that active lice and potentially viable
nits are removed.
People have also used several alternative methods to facilitate nit removal (loosen nits,
make louse combing easier), however, the Minnesota Department of Health cannot
recommend these methods without scientific evidence of their effectiveness
1. Vinegar and water (one-to-one mixture) is commonly used to remove nits. Hair is
soaked with the mixture for 30-60 minutes (a damp towel soaked in the same mixture may be used to contain the solution). Rinse the hair following removal of nits. Dry the hair thoroughly (throw the towel in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat after drying the child’s hair).
2. OTC products such as Clear ® or Hairclear 1-2-3 ®, carefully follow the
3. Environmental Cleanup
While the majority of head lice are transmitted directly from person to person, to control
any head lice that are temporarily surviving off of a human host, it is recommend to do
1. Wash bedding in hot water (above 130 degrees F) and/or dry in a hot dryer or iron
with a hot iron. Wash and dry recently worn clothing, (including coats, caps, and scarves), stuffed animals, backpacks, towels that were used for treatment, etc in hot temperatures. Vacuum the mattress. Clothing or bedding that cannot be washed may be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks (the plastic bags contain the lice until they are dead, and prevent head lice from temporarily infesting these items again while the treatment process is taking place). While people often place bagged items outside in below freezing temperatures to kill the lice, we do not know how long it takes to freeze head lice.
2. Clean combs, brushes, hair bands and similar items by:
-soaking in the medicated shampoo for 10 minutes, or -soaking in a 2 Lysol ® solution for one hour, or -heating in water of at least 130 degrees F for 10 minutes.
3. Clean floors, carpeting, furniture, pillows, rugs, car seats and child car seats by thoroughly vacuuming only. The use of insecticide sprays is not recommended. Cleaning efforts should occur on the first day of the first head lice treatment, and subsequently whenever live lice are found on the head during daily inspections. The effort should focus on areas frequented by the infested person.
4. Follow-up and Prevention
Follow up varies depending on the agent used. See Kill Lice Section for repeat
treatments for suffocating agents, or follow printed directions on chemical agents.
Parents should also be checking their child’s head for lice on a regular basis
throughout the year. Families should not depend on someone else to check a child’s
head, as this may delay treatment. Remember, if one person in a family, camp,
daycare or school has lice, there’s a chance others will too. Check all family
members and use the same treatment if necessary. Only treat family members with
lice or nits, treating persons without lice or nits will unnecessarily expose them to
potentially harmful chemicals.
Parents are encouraged to communicate with other
parents of children that may have been exposed to their child and the school should
also be notified. To avoid re-infestation, speak with your child about reducing direct
contact with other children (touching heads), and avoiding shared objects such as
brushes, combs, clothing, batting helmets, sleeping bags and towels. The Health
Assistant at your child’s school will inspect their head upon their return, to ensure
there are no remaining live lice and will again inspect these children seven to ten days
later to ensure re-infestation has not occurred.
Should you have any questions regarding lice treatment or control, please do not
hesitate to contact me at 497-6520 or the Health Assistant in your child’s building at
497-6500, extension 1006 for Albertville Primary, extension 2006 for St. Michael
Elementary, extension 6007 for Big Woods Elementary, extension 3007 for the
Middle School, or extension 4420 for the High School. We would also appreciate
any positive/negative feedback on product usage for treatment of future outbreaks.
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