For children aged 2 and under, parents must manually remove head lice by wetting or conditioning the hair and using a fine-tooth comb to extract the parasites, according to KidsHealth. Older kids and adults have the option to use medicated shampoos and lotions or oral prescription drugs, but the treatment may be ineffective against persistent head lice.
Common over-the-counter medications include Pyrethin and Permethrin, which contain chemical compounds that are toxic to head lice, Mayo Clinic states. When OTC medications are unsuccessful, doctors may prescribe drugs such as Malathion, benzyl alcohol and Lindane, depending on the age of the patient. Newly laid lice eggs can be resistant to medications, so a second treatment is often necessary to wipe out lice nymphs once they hatch.
Parents should avoid combining multiple medications and shouldn't wash a child's hair for one to two days after applying medication. To prevent another infestation, individuals should wash their bed linens, clothing, hair care accessories, towels, carpets and upholstered furniture, KidsHealth notes. Objects that are difficult to wash, such as stuffed animals, should be dry cleaned or contained in an airtight bag for at least three days. Other family members should also be checked for lice, especially if they share the same bed as the infected person.