How to Kill Lice

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Head lice are tiny parasitic bugs that live on human scalps and survive on human blood. While not dangerous, these bugs cause constant itching and can be very annoying. They are not a result of poor hygiene, and can easily infest anyone who comes into contact with them. Lice are very small, grayish or brownish in color, and have six legs with tiny claws. Infestations of head lice are common in school-age children. For anyone who becomes infected, it is important to thoroughly kill and remove all bugs to prevent spread to others.

Kill all the lice that are present in the hair and on the scalp. Adult lice can live on the human scalp for 30 days, and they consistently lay eggs while an individual is infested. You can use either prescription or over-the-counter insecticides called pediculicides, designed specifically for killing lice. These products are chemicals, and should be used with extreme caution, following directions carefully. Sometimes lice are resistant to these products, or in some cases, people are allergic to the chemicals. As an alternative, some people also use olive oil on the hair and scalp to smother the lice. This can be done alone or in combination with the pediculicides. Some individuals also use products like mayonnaise and cholesterol hair conditioner as a smothering agent.

Using a comb, check for eggs, called nits, on the scalp. They are very hard to see, usually white or yellow in color, and may resemble dandruff. Check under bright light or sunlight, to ensure that you can see the nits. Carefully examine each section of the scalp, and remove any nits that you see.

Thoroughly clean or discard all combs, brushes, linens, hats, or other items that may potentially be carrying lice or their eggs. Typically, lice die within 36 to 48 hours after being removed from the human head, and they need a blood meal within 45 minutes of hatching. Still, you want to ensure that you have cleaned all items that may be contaminated to make sure that all the lice are gone. Heat kills lice, so wash items in hot water, and consider putting clothes into a hot dryer for 20 minutes to kill them and their nits.

Continue to check the hair and scalp for nits and live lice after you have completed treatment. This process should be repeated every 2 to 3 days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Vacuum carpet, furniture and upholstery after the lice-infected person has been treated.
  • Pregnant women or nursing mothers should not use pediculicides.

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