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How do you treat a lice infestation?

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Quick Answer

Lice is treated by first inspecting the people in close contact with, and the household members of, an infested person, then simultaneously applying medication to all infested individuals at the same time. There are optional supplemental measures that include laundering items and bagging items that can't be laundered.

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Full Answer

Lice are parasitic insects. The three main types of lice that infest humans are body, genital and head lice. Body lice can be treated with good personal hygiene. Treatment of head and genital lice requires the use of medical pesticides, known as a pediculicide. A pediculicide is available as a prescription or over the counter medication.

Lice eggs are called nits. Removing nits is necessary when the medication used is not designed to destroy them. Treatment of personal items involves laundering on high heat. When laundering items is not possible, the items can be sealed in plastic bags for two weeks to ensure all eggs have hatched and lice have starved to death. Non-pharmaceutical, supplemental treatment is generally not needed to remove an infestation.

Application of pediculicide is done directly to the scalp. Hair conditioner can inhibit the effectiveness of the pesticide, so it is important to not wash your hair with conditioner before application. Begin by removing clothing that may become wet or stained during application. Apply the product according to the directions printed on the label. Have the treated individual change into clean clothes afterward.

If there are no dead lice after 12 hours, consult a medical professional. Check every two to three days for lice activity for the next two weeks. Directions for retreatment vary according to the product label.

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