Rid Lice Treatment Side Effects

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One of the first-line treatments for head lice recommended by medical professionals is Rid Lice-Killing Shampoo, which is found at most drugstores and pharmacies. However, Rid must be used safely, according to directions, to prevent harmful and possibly hazardous side effects.

What Makes Rid Work?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the active ingredient in Rid Lice-Killing Shampoo is pyrethrin, a natural extract from the chrysanthemum flower. Rid is one product brand mentioned by both the CDC and the Mayo Clinic for use in adults and children over the age of 2.

Rid: Safe Use

According to the product's instructions, Rid Lice-Killing Shampoo should be applied to dry hair, targeting the area behind the ears and the back of the neck first. Rid is left on for 10 minutes, worked into a lather using warm water and rinsed out thoroughly. Rid shampoo cannot be used anywhere on the face (eyebrows, lashes or inside the nose) or near the genital area. During the 10 minutes Rid is left in the hair, the person being treated should keep his or her eyes closed with a damp cloth pressed over them. Parents should consult a physician if a child under the age of 2 has head lice (the Mayo Clinic recommends wet combing as a first-line treatment for this age group).

Warnings and Possible Side Effects

Rid is not an appropriate lice treatment for people who are allergic to ragweed, as use of the product may induce an asthma attack. Nor should Rid shampoo or other pyrethrin treatment products be used on those who are allergic to chrysanthemums, says the CDC. Side effects may include scalp itching and redness. Use of Rid shampoo should be discontinued immediately and a physician contacted if breathing difficulty or irritation of the eyes, skin or scalp is noted.

Other Things to Know About Rid

According to the CDC, products containing pyrethrin kill live lice, not their nits, hence the reason a follow-up treatment using Rid seven to 10 days after the first treatment is necessary to kill any lice that may have hatched. Additionally, in some regions, head lice may have acquired a resistance to pyrethrin. This may necessitate another type of head lice treatment or a prescription medication from a doctor.

Other Rid Products

Wet-combing nits out of the hair after treatment is an important step in getting rid of a lice infestation. The makers of Rid offer a Lice & Egg Comb-Out Kit that contains a gel to keep hair damp, as well as a fine-toothed comb that removes nits from the hair shaft. Rid also sells a Home Lice Control Spray that contains 0.5 percent permethrin as its active ingredient. This Rid product is particularly hazardous to both humans and pets and should not be swallowed or inhaled or come into contact with skin, eyes or clothing; after using this product, the home should be vacated until the treatment dries on hard and soft surfaces. Measures must also be taken to ensure that the spray does not contaminate pet or human food.

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