Your Worst Back-to-School Nightmare: Head Lice


General Pest Control    Tips/Solutions   

Head lice are ectoparasites of humans--meaning they spend their entire lives living on the surface of our skin, feeding on our blood.  Outbreaks of lice are often widespread in school-aged children because they are easily transferred from child to child during play.  Lice can also be spread through the sharing of infected items such as hats, combs & brushes, or bedding.

While head lice can be difficult to diagnose without the presence of a physician, itchiness of the head and scalp remain the most common identifiable symptoms.

When recently posed the question of how to get rid of head lice, our own Dr. Kathy Heinsohn reports several useful tips for addressing this parasitic pest.

Regarding Over-the-Counter Products

There is a fairly new homeowner’s product out there that can be purchased at most drug stores, called Lice MD.  It’s a solution that coats hair strands with Dimethicone (non-pesticidal)--a substance that makes hair slick and smooth--allowing a person to easily comb through the hair to remove lice and nits. You will also need a special comb specifically designed to comb out any nits (the eggs that remain after adults and immature nymphs are gone).  Be aware that while Rid is a product that is often recommended by dermatologists for lice cases, a pesticidal resistance has developed and it is no longer considered to be the most effective treatment.

Do-it-Yourself Lice Treatments

Additionally, one DIY method that I recommend for killing lice is this:  (while it’s a bit messy, it works well) On a night before bed, place olive oil or mayonnaise GENEROUSLY all throughout the hair and cover with a shower cap or wrap tightly with Saran wrap.  Sleep on this 10-12hrs.  Rinse out.  This will suffocate and kill all adults and nymphs.  A week later repeat the treatment again, as all of the eggs (nits) will have hatched and new nymphs and adults will be present.  And, a third week may be required as well, if any eggs remain.  You may want to do complete a combination of both regimens to increase efficacy/success!

What Else Can You Do?

In the meantime, wherever your child spends his or her time resting--on a pillow, in a bed, on the sofa--take everything to be washed in very hot water and dry in a very hot dryer, or as hot as the settings allow.  All items that come in contact with the child’s head, such as hats, scarves, stuffed animals or clothing should be washed and dried in the same manner.  Additionally, vacuum around the bed, sofa, etc., and discard the vacuum bag outdoors immediately after each use. 

It’s not a fun problem to have and requires extreme vigilance and labor, but it is surmountable.



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