Updated on July 24, 2020
By Karen Sokoloff
How Are Lice Transmitted?
Lice transmission occurs when one person has a live louse that crawls from one head to another person’s head. Take a look at kids; it is nearly impossible to get them to stay a distance away from friends. Needless to say, if you spot your child or her friend scratching excessively, separate the children right away and conduct a lice check.
While it is not likely, lice can be transmitted through objects, especially if kids are sharing toys or combs and brushes. It is important to keep in mind that lice can only live on those objects for a few hours so don’t go over board with cleaning, bagging, and, definitely, do not throw out these things.
How to Spot the Symptoms of Head Lice
There are certain telltale signs of head lice. Not everyone will show the same symptoms, but below are some of the things that you should be looking for if you suspect lice in your family:
- The number one sign of head lice is a constant itchiness of the scalp, which will feel similar to mosquito bites. It is the saliva from the louse that causes the itching.
- Some folks will manifest red raised bumps at the sites of the bites. If you scratch enough, you can irritate the skin and even cause a bacterial infection.
- Lice bites are most typically found around the ears and along the nape of the neck.
- The telltale sign of lice is nits (lice eggs). Nits are glued to the hair and you cannot easily extract them. They have an iridescent look especially when you shine a light on them. In reality, nits are brown reflecting the color of the the nymph (baby louse) inside.
- Some people will feel movement of lice on the head. This is particularly true at night when lice feel more comfortable crawling around on your head; they are primarily nocturnal.
How to Comb Through Hair for Lice and Nits
The first thing that you need to have on hand is a quality comb. Forget those plastic combs that come with the lice treatment kits. They are flimsy and the teeth of the comb are too far apart to catch the nits that are stuck in the hair.
You need a strong metal comb. We recommend the Terminator comb and the National Pediculosis Association recommends the LiceMeister comb. Both are sturdy, good lice combs which you can use to get rid of lice permanently.
The reason that you need a quality comb is that other combs will leave nits in the hair. The closer together the tines of the comb are, the more likely it is that the comb will grab and pull out the eggs and bugs.
Equipped with metal comb in hand, you are ready to do battle against head lice. Your mission is to kill lice at home. Wetting the hair will facilitate the combing process. Comb the hair in sections that are about 2 inches in width. Start the combing at the top of the head and comb down. Keep combing each section until no nits or lice come out. If you are heavily infested, you may need to comb each section several times. Make sure you have proper lighting which will help you to avoid leaving nits in the hair.
Combing should be part of any lice treatment designed to get rid of lice permanently.
Prescription Lice Treatment Versus Over-the Counter Lice Remedies
We are not fans of any chemical lice treatment remedy. As we have written about numerous times, owing to the advent and widespread nature of super lice, these treatments are largely not effective. Simply put, super lice, which are found in almost every state in the country, do not respond to lice treatment chemicals. They have mutated over the years and are no longer vulnerable to these lice remedies. We urge you to avoid them if you are trying to kill lice at home. LiceDoctors: Lice Chemicals Ineffective and Potentially Harmful
Prescription Lice Treatments
Benzyl alcohol lotion: Marketed as Ulesfia, it can be used to treat head lice in people 6 months of age and older. It is very expensive and one side effect is irritated skin.
Ivermectin lotion: Marketed as Sklice, this drug is also only approved to treat head lice in people 6 months of age and older. This product increases chloride in cells to paralyze the bugs. Side effects may include itchy skin, eye irritation, and a burning feeling on the skin.
Malathion lotion: This chemical is on the market under the name Ovide. It is approved only to treat people ages 6 years and older. Malathion works by paralyzing the lice. It can cause side effects such as itching, burning, irritation, and is flammable.
Other prescription lice remedies include Spinosad topical suspension, which has not been proven safe for children under the age of four and Lindane lotion, which may be very toxic and is generally prescribed as a last resort.
How much is prescription lice treatment? These remedies cost a lot more than OTC treatments and often carry a much higher price tag than professional lice services. Ulesfia is over $500 for a box!
Over-the-Counter Lice Treatments
If you found lice on your child's head and bought a chemical lice medication, you likely purchased an over-the-counter shampoo, lotion, or lice removal kit that has permethrin or pyrethrum. These lice medications have 1% permethrin or 0.33% pyrethrum and they are found in products like Nix, Rid, A-200, and Pronto, and generic versions.
As with prescription lice treatments, these lice shampoos do nothing to get rid of the nits, even if you think that you tried the best over the counter lice treatment. They cannot pierce the shell of the nits so they must be followed up with combing.
At first blush, because of their relatively low price points, OTC lice kits may seem like your first best lice treatment choice, but often these at-home lice remedies are a waste of money and lead to frustration and wasted time.
Natural Home Remedies for Lice Treatment
LiceDoctors recommends using chemical-free lice treatments, but you have to be careful what you use. According to the American Academy of dermatology, there is research that indicates some of these products may be toxic to people.
Herbal remedies such as anise oil treatment, neem oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, lavender oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, red thyme, and aniseed oil, among others, are essential natural remedies used to kill lice at home. They are generally used to suffocate the lice. These may have some success in killing lice but they do not have an impact on lice eggs. Another risk is allergies and they should never be ingested. There have been a number of cases where people have had allergic reactions and tea tree oil is definitely on that list. Healthline.com
Mayonnaise, Cetaphil, Vaseline, coconut oil, and hair conditioner work by suffocating the lice. The problem with a mayo treatment for head lice is that it eventually dries and becomes very difficult to work with. Cetaphil and hair conditioner are not really thick enough to suffocate all of the bugs, but they can be helpful in the process. Petroleum jelly is certainly thick enough, in fact, it is too thick. It can clog pores on the scalp; when hair follicles are blocked, bacteria can grow, causing an infection. donjuanpomade.com. In addition, it is very difficult to wash Vaseline out of the hair.
Listerine and vinegar allegedly work to dissolve nits and lice. Listerine has 27% alcohol and the Spokane Regional Health District states clearly on its site not to use alcohol to tear head lice as it is flammable.
Keep in mind that nothing kills nits; in order to eradicate nits you have to physically pull them out. This where most people fail to get rid of lice permanently and where, after a lot of effort, people end up calling in a professional nit picker.
After Lice Treatment Dos and Don’ts
- After treatment, you want to be vigilant about checking your children a few times a week to be sure that you have gotten rid of the lice permanently.
- Check your child for lice using a bright light or bring the child outside and take advantage of natural sunlight.
- To check the child, use a regular comb to section the hair into two inch sections. Spread the hair strands like a fan and look through them for nits that may glisten in the light.
- Pull out anything that you suspect is a nit and see if it is brown and teardrop shaped.
- Do make sure that you have a good lice comb and that you know how to use a lice comb for combing out nits.
- If you find signs of nits when you initially check and you want to save time and effort, you can put yourselves in the hands of professional like LiceDoctors. A professional nit picker can get rid of lice permanently in a couple of hours.
- Don’t assume that your treatment is one and done. That is where people run into trouble and lose the battle to control lice.
- Don’t think that because you find a few nits after lice treatment, that the treatment has failed. Simply conduct a lice removal or nit extraction and check again in a few days.
- If you do find nits, do not resort to lice shampoos. They will not help to eradicate the nits.
- Don’t spend a lot of time scrubbing down your house. Your lice professional should give you an aftercare plan to prevent hair lice from returning.
- Don’t ever spray your house with a lice pesticide. These insecticides can be toxic and they are not at all needed. Lice are on the head, not in the house.
- Don’t wait until you are defeated and frustrated before reaching out for help. Call LiceDoctors and we will send a lice specialist to your home when you want.
Cleaning House After Lice
If your family has lice, you may be inclined to do a major cleaning of the house, clothes, dog, toys, etc. We will give you a few cleaning tips with the caveat that cleaning the house is optional. You don’t have to kill lice in your home because they will die within a matter of hours without their food. The best lice treatments will give you an aftercare plan with something to put on the head as insurance. (We recommend an olive oil treatment to kill any lice or nits left behind once they hatch).
- You may wish to change your bedding. All you need to do is throw the sheets into the washing machine and dryer. While this is not required, most people feel better doing this.
- You can put brushes and combs and other hair accessories in the freezer over night.
- Take a lint brush and wipe couches and chairs and even your child’s stuffed animals. You do not need to put toys and stuffed animals in bags for days.
- Vacuuming all the rugs and mopping the floors is overkill.
Your best bet is to hire a professional lice treatment. So what does LiceDoctors do to kill lice at home and get rid of lice and nits permanently?
Your technician uses a chemical-free, safe, and effective protocol which generally includes applying olive oil and combing thoroughly using a professional comb, then doing a dry check and manually extracting nits, and finishing up with another oil treatment and comb-through. The beauty of using olive oil as a natural way to suffocate lice is that we have not experienced any allergies to it in over a half million clients.
After applying oil to the head, your LiceDoctors lice specialist will really prove her mettle. This is where the best professional lice treatment outshines that of do-it-yourself at home lice killing treatments. She will use a professional grade comb for lice to get rid of lice and lice eggs.
When she has finished this step, she will go back through the hair, looking for any nits that might still be in the hair. She will nit pick anything she sees which requires experience to be effective. When she has eliminated all signs of lice and nits, she will go over your follow-up directions, which is your insurance that you get out all lice permanently. This is the best way to eliminate lice safely and effectively, and to avoid the potential side effects and treatment failures of lice prescriptions and other remedies. Note: for a few days, you may feel itching after lice treatment. Those are the lice bites calming down and the itching will go away.
LiceDoctors treatment has proven effective on over 500,000 clients, is safe for people of all ages, and carries no risk of side-effects. Technicians are lice experts and they know how to find and identify lice that crawl frenetically around in the hair and nits that camouflage in the hair.
LiceDoctors operates under the guidance of a board-certified, on-staff medical doctor and we back our service with a full guarantee! We are the most experienced and cost-effective lice removal service in the area; prices are on average significantly lower than lice salon costs. We accept FSAs and HSAs and treatment is covered under some insurance plans. We understand the stress that you feel, so give us a call at 800-224-2537. Technicians are available day or night, 365 days year.