The Do’s and Don’ts of Lice Treatment

When I think of over-the-counter lice medicated shampoos, I can’t help but imagine that they’re full of nasty stuff. I mean, they kill blood-sucking parasites. Surprisingly, though, according to the Cosmetics Safety Database, typical over-the-counter lice treatments only are moderate hazards. As long as they’re effective, these shampoos just may be worth the hazardous exposure. (Remember, though: they’re insecticides. Don’t use too much of the shampoo during a treatment and don’t use it very frequently.) Check with your doctor to see his or her recommended treatment.

Most lice and nits are killed by the medicated shampoos, especially when combing out the nits with a fine-tooth comb.

Typical, effective lice treatments include a long list of do’s and don’ts. If you or a loved one is suffering from lice, make sure you:

  • DO apply the pediculicide (anti-lice medication) according to the label’s instructions.
  • DON’T wash hair for at least one day after applying the treatment.
  • DO comb nits out of hair with a fine-tooth comb after treating the hair.
  • DON’T apply a conditioner to hair before or after applying the lice medication.
  • DO put on clean clothes after the anti-lice treatment.
  • DON’T ever, ever, ever use bug sprays or pesticides on a person’s head to remove lice. And DON’T ever, ever, ever, ever, ever use gasoline to kill lice, either. When I was growing up, a girl at my elementary school experienced severe facial burns after her parents tried to treat lice with gasoline … and the girl’s hair tragically caught on fire.
  • DO retreat with medication in one week.
  • DON’T use a hair dryer on the treated person’s hair directly after the treatment. Many products contain flammable ingredients.
  • DO check the treated person’s head and hair every two days, and continue to remove any nits or lice. Continue this for three weeks, until you’re sure the lice are gone.
  • DON’T use lice medications on pregnant or breastfeeding women. DON’T use it on children younger than 3 years old, either.
  • DO consult a doctor about lice medication if the person infested with lice has allergies or asthma.
  • DON’T use more than one lice medication at a time. And DON’T use extra amounts of medicine. More medication is not more effective.
  • DO treat only the people infested with lice.
  • DON’T retreat hair with medication if sluggish but live lice still are found right after the treatment. Comb the lice out of the hair and wait. However, if you notice that lice are just as active after a treatment and if you cannot find dead lice, consult your physician for other treatment options.
  • DO avoid getting lice medications anywhere near eyebrows or eyelashes.
What’s next?
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Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and journalist who blogs about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. She’s recently released her first eBook, First Bites: How To Instill Healthy Eating Habits During Your Baby's First Year.

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Lovely comments so far...

  1. It’s funny I found this post because I was JUST talking about lice with my coworkers. Apparently on the her kids has an infested head of hair. Ironically she did a double don’t from her list:

    DON’T use more than one lice medication at a time. And DON’T use extra amounts of medicine. More medication is not more effective

    She used two medications, including on whole bottle of one, and left it overnight with a bag on top of it. She says all the dead lice was stuck to the bag and the kid’s head is clear of bugs. Right now I’m worried for that child’s health!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The best way to get rid of lice is to prevent it. And one of the easiest ways to prevent it is to put some tea tree oil into your children’s shampoo.

  3. What an awful true story, Laura! It’s no wonder all of the lice were dead and sticking to the bag. Didn’t she read the instructions first?!

  4. I completely agree about the need to prevent lice … and I’m covering it in Friday’s post.

    It’s very important to note, though, that tea tree oil should NOT be used on children ages five years old and younger.

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