1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Video:Head Lice Treatments for Children

with Dr. Danelle Fisher

There are a few head lice treatments for children that you should be aware of if you child is school-aged. Watch this About.com video to see what they are.See Transcript

  • All Videos
  • All Health Videos
  • Pediatrics Videos

Transcript:Head Lice Treatments for Children

Hi I'm Dr. Danelle Fisher, Board Certified Pediatrician with www.WestchesterPeds.com and I'm here today for About.com to talk to you about head lice treatments for children.

What Are Lice?

Lice are little bugs about the size of a sesame seed that live in people's hair. They lay eggs or nits that are glued to the hair shaft. These eggs hatch after 6-9 days. Head lice are extremely itchy and very contagious by sharing clothing, hats, barrettes, scarves, combs and other products. They occur commonly in schools and daycare centers and will spread very quickly to family members.

What to Do If You See Lice

If you see lice or nits in your child's hair, stay calm. There are several treatments that will work if used correctly and with the proper timing. Over-the-counter shampoos are often the first-line treatment of lice. The active ingredients permethrin and pyrethrin are in these shampoos. They may be applied to dry or damp hair and then rinsed off after a short period of time. The next step in treatment is daily combing of the hair with a fine-toothed comb or lice comb to remove all leftover nits. These nits are sticky and live on the hair shaft near the scalp, making them hard to completely remove in one combing. These shampoos should be repeated after 7-10 days in order to get all the lice that may have hatched from leftover nits. Some people do not want to use the shampoos and may try alternative treatments.

Best Treatment for Lice

The best treatment is to pick out all the lice and nits by hand, but this can be a tedious process and takes a long time in some cases. Other treatments such as mayonnaise, tea tree oil, olive oil or vinegar are not scientifically proven to remove lice and nits. Resistant lice may need prescription treatment, such as topical medications like malathion or benzyl alcohol lotion. These and other medications are usually used when other therapies fail. Ask your pediatrician for more information about these treatments and if they are necessary for your child. In addition to removal of lice and nits, environmental controls are important, too.

Removing Lice from Household Items

Wash in hot water all bedding, towels and clothing that came into contact with the infected person's head, within 48 hours of starting treatment. Items such as combs, brushes, and head accessories may be treated by sealing in plastic bags for 2-4 weeks, boiling in water for 5 minutes or soaking in rubbing alcohol for 1 hour. Lice are a common childhood problem. Now you know how to tackle the treatment if it comes to your home.

Thanks for watching. For more information visit us online at About.com.

About videos are made available on an "as is" basis, subject to the User Agreement.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.