How Do You Treat Head Lice?


Quick Answer

According to Mayo Clinic, most doctors recommend treating lice with an over-the-counter medication applied to the infested head. The medication includes permethrin and pyrethrin, chemicals that kill most lice. If an over-the-counter lice medication doesn't work, a doctor can prescribe a lice treatment that includes stronger chemicals.

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Full Answer

Head lice are tiny parasitic insects that live on human hair and feed on blood from the scalp, according to KidsHealth. Lice infestations are very contagious and spread easily from one head to another. Although lice is not dangerous, it can make the scalp itchy, and the scratching could lead to an infection.

It's most common for head lice to spread among children in close contact at school or home. According to Mayo Clinic, lice can easily spread by sharing items such as combs and brushes, hats, scarves, hair accessories, headphones, pillows and towels.

Individuals must visit a doctor to confirm a case of head lice. Depending on the severity of the infestation, a doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication or provide a prescription for something stronger. Before applying the medication, wash the affected person's hair with shampoo, followed by a white vinegar rinse. Follow the instructions on the package or from the doctor on how to apply and how long to leave it on the scalp and hair. Rinse the medication out with warm water. In some cases a second treatment of the medication is necessary, however, a doctor should be consulted first to determine the proper timing of the additional treatment.

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