Head Lice Treatment 101

Head louse on ground

How Do Head Lice Spread?

Head lice are extremely contagious and can infest one person after another very easily, particularly if they’re in a group that involves close contact, such as schools or kindergartens/preschools, children’s parties, spots teams and so on.

Lice are fascinating, as while they can’t jump or spread by flying, they have claws that have specially adapted to hair and hanging on to it very very tightly. Typically, all it takes is one head being close to another for a louse to crawl across, but that’s not all – they can also move from clothing and bedclothes, hair brushes and combs, and even hats have been known to spread nits! Because children tend to have more head-to-head contact with one another than adults, they’re far more prone to catching head lice.

One small light at the end of the tunnel: at least your pets are safe, as they can neither catch lice, nor spread them to other people.

Treatment Is Hard Work

There’s no way around it: a single overnight treatment is not going to clear up an outbreak of head lice. As long as the lice victim is over 2 months old, you can take a two-pronged approach:

Start with a good shampoo treatment. This will be a lotion that will kill the lice, and hopefully the nits (i.e. their eggs) as well. Most likely, it’ll take a day or two for the itching and scratching to stop, but at least the core problem will have been taken care of.

The next step is to use a comb to brush out the nits. Let’s not beat around the bush: this is an incredibly boring process, both for the person combing, and for the person sitting there waiting!

Whether to use an electric comb or a “plain” old regular comb is a very simple decision: for long hair, use a normal comb; and for short hair, use the electric option, which will zap any nasty lice that have somehow managed to survive the ordeal until now.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on old wives’ tales about scraping mayonnaise through someone’s hair. It’s demeaning for everyone involved, has a guaranteed success rate of zero, and is a waste of good food to boot!

What to do about children 2 months old or younger? You cannot and must not use medicated shampoos in this case, leaving you with combing alone.

You’ll need to work at this every night for at least three consecutive weeks. If you do so, you’re practically guaranteed to solve your head lice problem.

Written by tom


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