How to Cure Bad Infestations of Head Lice

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Just thinking about head lice makes most heads itch. They are pesky, but even a serious lice infestation can be cleared up. To get started, invest in a good lice comb. The eggs are the size of poppy seeds, and even the adults are no bigger than sesame seeds, so a fine-toothed regular comb will not get them out. Also, ignore all home remedies. People will tell you to put all sorts of crazy things on your kids' heads, from mayonnaise to kerosene, but your best bet to remove head lice is a good anti-lice shampoo, and to follow a few other strategies.

Things You'll Need

  • Lice-killing shampoo
  • Towels
  • Lice comb
  • Plastic bed bags
  • Washer and dryer
  • Detergent
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
  • Wash the hair of everyone in your household with lice-killing shampoo. Follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly. If you have been using a 1 percent pyrethin or permathrin solution with no results, you might need to go to a 5 percent solution. Reading the label will give you the concentration information.

  • Dry each person's hair with a clean towel, and then put the towel immediately into a washing machine full of hot water.

  • Comb through everyone's hair, one at a time, with a lice comb. If you can do this outside, even better. Concentrate on the areas behind the ears and especially at the nape of the neck, and take your time. This should take at least an hour per head. Lice can't jump or fly, they spread through physical contact or sharing infected items, so as long as uncombed family members keep their distance until everyone is done, no one should get reinfected.

  • Remove all bedding and wash it in hot (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) water and dry it on high for at least 20 minutes. Lice don't live long if they are not on a human being, but it's best to be sure.

  • Wash all clothing that has been recently worn in hot water, and dry it on high, If it can't be washed, place it in plastic bag, close the bag tightly and take the clothing to the dry cleaner.

  • Place all stuffed animals in plastic bags and close them tightly. Leave them in the bags for at least two weeks.

  • Wash all combs, brushes, hair toys and hats in rubbing alcohol or lice shampoo, or discard and replace them.

  • Vacuum all carpets and upholstered furniture, including the seats in the cars. Wash any removable car seat covers in hot water and put them in the dryer for at least 20 minutes on high.

  • Go over everyone's head with the lice comb every two to three days for at least two weeks after you saw the last live head lice. Reapply the lice shampoo after 7 to 10 days or according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't panic. You don't have to take your whole house apart; a good spring cleaning and being vigilant about checking everyone's heads should be enough.
  • Do not use lice shampoo on children under 2 years old -- use the lice comb on wet hair to remove any lice and nits.

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