– Head lice are caused by small parasites that infect the scalp. They're more common in children although adults can be affected too. Lice can be easily transmitted from person to person by sharing personal items like combs and brushes. Fortunately, you don't have to live with this frustrating and embarrassing affliction. There are over-the-counter products that can help address the problem of head lice. read more about lice treatment » | resource library for hair care »
Many people with lice experience scalp itching and irritation. You can see red bumps on the scalp and back of the neck. If you look closely, you may see lice eggs called "nits" attached to the hair shaft. You may also see the lice themselves, although they're often very small and hard to see. The best way to find them is to carefully comb the hair with a fine-toothed comb, preferably a special lice and nit comb.
What Can You Do if You Have Lice
Shampoos and treatments that contain ingredients called pyrethrins kill lice. These products are available without a prescription. Because they don't kill the eggs or nits, you should use these treatment products again after 10 days to ensure any newly hatched eggs are eliminated. You can remove the nits after using this treatment by gently combing with a lice and nit comb. Kits are available that contain lice killing shampoo and comb-out gel, lice and nit comb and a spray that kills lice and lice eggs inside your home and car.
You can also buy a lice and nit comb or a lice-killing spray separately to use in your home. Lice and nit combs are made to remove tiny, stubborn nits and lice that are difficult to remove with a standard comb. Some of these combs are made of stainless steel and are sturdy and difficult to break. To avoid reinfestation, wash any items that a child or adult infected with lice has come into contact with including clothing, brushes, combs and bed coverings. Be sure to vacuum floors and furniture. Eliminating all nits and lice is the best protection against another lice outbreak.
Preventing Head Lice
One of the best ways to protect against future encounters with head lice is to avoid sharing personal care items, particularly combs and brushes, with other people. Shampoos, conditioners and conditioning sprays are available with herbal and plant-based ingredients like rosemary and citronella that help repel lice. These products have the advantage of being free of harmful chemicals and toxins. In some cases they actually help to improve the health of your hair.
The Bottom Line
Head lice is a pesky problem. Most cases of head lice can be successfully handled at home using non-prescription products. There are prescription treatments available for resistant head lice. If you find that head lice continues to be a problem after using the available products, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a prescription product to treat your lice.