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Head Lice: Treatment Options

There are many remedies for head lice. Deciding which one to use, and whose advice to follow, can be confusing. This article will teach you the basics of head lice treatment, and talk about the options.

I have found head lice. Now what?

  • Carefully check the heads of everyone in the family.
  • Treat each person who has head lice. Lice-free heads do not need to be treated.

What product works best? Which treatment should I choose?

  • Nix, R&C, Nyda, Resultz
  • Nix and R&C (insecticides) have been around the longest. Head lice have developed some resistance to these products, but we have yet to find out exactly how much resistance.
  • Nyda and Resultz are both relatively new. Unlike the older treatments, they are not insecticides. The few studies done on these show them to be quite effective. Both of these products are for ages two and up.
  • These products can be found at your local pharmacy. They should be used now, and again in 7 to 9 days. If you have any questions about these treatments, ask your pharmacist.
  • Lice comb for removing eggs (nits).  This is a MUST after treating for head lice. Check for nits and remove them.  Get a fine-toothed metal comb; these have the smallest spaces between the teeth.
  • There is no need to buy special products to loosen nits. Conditioner can be used if you like, but a proper comb is all you really need.

Wet Combing 

This is an alternative to the treatments above. Wet combing involves combing the hair with conditioner and trapping the live lice. Because it is easy to miss lice, this must be done every 3 or 4 days for 2 weeks, to catch any lice that were missed. Click here and go to page 2 for wet combing instructions.

Here are treatments you should NOT use

insect sprays, motor oil, gasoline, alcohol, flea soap, dyes, bleaches, heat applied to the scalp, garlic, essential oils. These are either dangerous or ineffective or both. 

Other tasks

Items that have been in direct contact with the affected person should be cleaned. This includes shirts, jackets, hats, combs, brushes and bedding. You can also vacuum carpets and upholstery but this is less important.

For more information about head lice, visit HealthLinkBCFile #06 or Vancouver Coastal Health Manual - Section 16.

Tara Loseth, RPh


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