Learn What Works and What Doesn't With Head Lice Treatment

When your child comes home from school with lice, the first thing you'll want to know is what the most effective and least harmful head lice treatment options are. While your first inclination may be to buy the most toxic lice shampoo on the market, this is a dangerous option that can actually make the problem worse. The fact of the matter is, the best way to get rid of lice is still to manually remove head lice is the old-fashioned way: manually removing their eggs or “nits” with a fine-toothed comb.

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Who gets head lice?

Head lice can affect anyone, no matter how clean they may be. In fact, head lice will infect clean hair just as readily as dirty hair. And, it's not the end of the world, but you'll have to act fast, lest the population get out of control. Studies have shown that when you wait to begin any treatment for head lice, the longer it will take to get rid of them for good.

Head lice treatments that don't work

Nits are the well-protected eggs that are not able to be killed by the pesticide found in most lice shampoos. Such products only kill lice that have hatched and are over four days old. This is true of any pesticide-based application, no matter what form it takes. To make matters worse, an increasingly large number of lice are resistant to these dangerous chemicals. Even a single application can result in a largely resistant population. Because of this, the most effective head louse treatment remains manual removal of the eggs with a fine-toothed comb and the science of entomology.

Working with biology to treat head lice

Making decisions about treating head lice is best approached with an understanding of the biology of this insect. When learning how to treat head lice, consider the life-cycle of the head louse and when they're most vulnerable to your attack. Adults are able to lay eggs as soon as they reach full size and continue doing so for their entire 30-day life span, resulting in as many as 100 nits per louse. This means that even if you get rid of all the adults, there'll be plenty of eggs and immature nymphs to take their place if they're not removed as well.

However, the news isn't all bad. Head lice feed on human blood and will quickly die without their food source. Because of this, you can get rid of lice that have infected stuffed animals, clothes and bedding by tightly enclosing them in a plastic bag for two weeks. This ensures all the eggs will hatch and subsequently starve.

In short, the most effective head lice treatment is diligent killing and removal of all head lice life stages as soon as possible.

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