Dr. Michael Roizen answered:
Did you get the “official” letter from the school nurse saying your child has head lice, again? It’s okay. While it’s part of every parent’s nightmare, don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to get rid of the creepy crawlers. The key is eliminating the lice and eggs out of the hair. To do this, you will have to kill them, or pick each live louse and nit out, a monumental undertaking.
To help you on your quest, there are a slew of over-the-counter and prescription products available that kill these suckers. Permethrins or pyrethrins seem to be the least toxic lice killer because they are plant-based extracts. You’ll need a prescription for malathion, benzyl alcohol lotion (5%), or lindane shampoo (1%), but many of these are not recommended for young children.
To increase the effectiveness of whatever lice remedy you choose, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer exactly. You’re not setting up a new electronic device here, so no matter how well you think you can do it on your own, just read the directions.
Also, don’t use a hair conditioner before using the lice medicine, and skip hair washing for two days afterwards. This will let the medicine work its magic.
None of the lice removal products are 100% effective at killing the eggs, so combine forces with a comb or nitpicker to manually remove the eggs. Vinegar or vinegar-based products can help loosen the bond they make to the hair shaft. Parents have reported some success using the occlusive method that involves wrapping the head with petroleum jelly, mayonnaise, or olive oil to smother the lice dead. But your kid may not like this idea!
And don’t forget about all those things that have come in contact with the lice or lice eggs: PJs, stuffed animals, pillowcases, curtains, you name it. Wash them in 130°F hot water, and then tumble all items in a super-hot dryer or have them dry-cleaned. Other items can be sealed in a plastic bag for at least two weeks.Did you get the “official” letter from the school nurse saying your child has head lice, again? It’s okay. While it’s part of every parent’s nightmare, don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to get rid of the... More
Head lice are parasites that infest millions of people every year in the United States. They’re spread through direct contact with a person with lice and through contact with combs, brushes, hats, scarves, and other infested items of clothing. Head lice can’t live for more than a day or two without their human host.
You can get rid of head lice in a number of ways, although some are better than others. For years, lindane and other highly chlorinated pesticides were contained in the shampoos used against head lice. While this was previously considered safe, health-care professionals are now concerned that the amount of the lindane that can be absorbed through the skin is significant. It is therefore prudent to minimize your child’s exposure to these chemicals to avoid the possible long-term toxic effects of pesticides.
Removing nits from the hair is the best way -- but also the most labor-intensive way -- to stop a head lice infestation. Each nit is an egg that will hatch into a new louse. If you remove all of the nits, the lice will disappear. This is the least-toxic method for removing lice and nits, and it is the only method that should be used for children under 2 years old.
To remove the nits, you’ll need a good bright light, a magnifying glass, and a fine-tooth nit comb (you can buy a nit comb at your local drugstore). Comb through the hair, section by tiny section, and remove any nits you find. Put the nits on some toilet paper and flush the paper down the toilet. Remove every nit from every family member. You may need to do this for several days in a row to make sure that you get all the nits. Remember, the advantage to this method is that you don’t have to use any toxic chemicals. (In addition, bedding should be washed, and any items that can’t be washed should be tightly bagged and sealed in plastic for several weeks.)
Head lice are parasites that infest millions of people every year in the United States. They’re spread through direct contact with a person with lice and through contact with combs, brushes, hats, scarves, and other infested items of clothing.... More