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How easy is it to kill lice?

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Quick Answer

Thorough elimination of lice infestations is often difficult due to the insects' increased natural resistance to over-the-counter treatments and the frequency with which they reappear following treatment. Methods that work on adult lice are often ineffective against nits, while treatments for nits may not work with adults. The likelihood of success against lice outbreaks increases the more methods one uses, which may encompass over-the-counter, prescription and home remedies.

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Full Answer

Nitpicking and combing is one of the most important methods for louse and nit removal, as it can physically eliminate the insects at any stage of development. Specialized combs are available at drugstores and work best by combing hair to one side at a time. Magnification instruments and light are effective for revealing missed lice and nits.

While some lice are resistant to over-the-counter medications, products such as Rid that contain the chemical pyrethrum can still be effective. Pyrethrum works by attacking the louse's nervous system. It is often best to apply a second round of treatment approximately seven to 10 days following the first. Application consists of applying the product to the hair, waiting 10 minutes, and then adding water to lather and rinse.

Permethrin, a similar chemical that is available in products such as Nix, also works by attacking the louse's nervous system. It is best to monitor for allergic reactions following application of either treatment.

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