This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read more about this in our disclosure policy.
Getting rid of head lice can be tricky. You may feel like you’re in the clear, after using a lice treatment, only to have them reappear a week later. This is all too common with head lice and there are a variety of reasons for this. Usually, it means you didn’t treat it properly or completely. With pests like lice, you have to do more than just treat your hair once with a medicated shampoo. You’re also going to need to take a few other steps to ensure you get rid of them completely.
How to Get Rid of Head Lice Once and for all
Here are some tips to getting rid of these tiny pests once and for all.
Related: Preparing Your Child For Preschool
Use the Right Product
Not everyone decides to use a lice shampoo. It’s actually possible to get rid of them without it, but it might take more time and patience. If you do decide to use one, you’re going to need to know which one to use. There are a number of lice shampoos available on the market, which use different ingredients and achieve different results. Common lice treatments like Nix and Rid use a natural pesticide found in chrysanthemums called pyrethrins (or synthetic pyrethrins such as permethrin.)
These products tend to work on live lice, but are less effective at killing their eggs. Not only that, lice have recently become more resistant to the effects of pyrethrin-based treatments. If you try this and it doesn’t work, you might want to talk to your doctor about prescription strength lice shampoos. There are some available that will also kill the nits (eggs).
If you’re looking for a natural fix, there are several home remedies circulating that let you fight back with ingredients from your pantry. Many people swear by olive oil or mayonnaise treatments to clog the holes that the lice use to breathe. However, results using methods like this typically vary.
Kill them with Heat
When small bugs such as lice are exposed to hot (dry) air it causes them to lose body moisture and die. Using a blow dryer on your hair is very effective at killing lice and nits, though it’s necessary to dry your hair multiple times. Make sure you use a lice comb when you’re done to remove both the dried-out lice and eggs.
Some people also find flat irons (hair straighteners) to be helpful at killing lice. Keep in mind you’ll have to go very close to the scalp and also cover every strand of the hair so this might not be practical for young children or someone with really fine hair that won’t take well to the heat.
Get the Lice and the Eggs
No matter which treatment method you choose, you’ll need to apply it at least twice. Lice eggs are very resilient and tend to survive shampoos or other treatments. This means that while using shampoo might make lice go away for a while, they’ll be back as soon as the babies have had time to mature. Make sure to reapply your treatment after 7-10 days, so that the eggs have time to hatch into more vulnerable adults.
The most important thing to know about treating head lice is that you have to get rid of the nits. They are tiny and difficult to see, especially for certain hair types, and you need to get rid of every single one, lest they hatch into a fresh batch of lice. So while you may not enjoy going through every strand of hair with a fine-toothed comb, that is exactly what is needed to truly get rid of lice.
Once you’ve eradicated the lice on your head, the next step is to eliminate the bugs in your home. Make sure to wash hats, clothing, and bedding. Stuffed animals and other items that can’t go in the wash should be sealed in an air-tight bag for at least a week. This will kill off any parasites left on them. You should vacuum floors and couches and other surfaces that may have gotten lice on them. Lice cannot live all that long without a host anyway so as long as everything is cleaned up properly, your issues should resolve.
By following all of these steps you can get rid of lice for good. It can be hard work but it’s worth it to properly treat your infestation.