Health And Wellness

How To Get Rid Of Lice (So They Never Come Back)

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How to get rid of lice

Lice are nasty and can create a mess in your home. Not only do they get in the air and cause itch and discomfort, but they spread to hats, clothing, sheets and, eventually, the whole house.

If someone has them, they will spread fast. That means that learning how to get rid of lice becomes very important. But how long does it take to get rid of lice? Though, initially, you should be removing nits and lice for two to three days after discovering them, be sure to check for at least two to three weeks to make sure they are all gone.

To get rid of lice completely, there are a few very different ways to do this, including over-the-counter medications, shampoos, or taking a more natural route. But each one has its pros and its drawbacks.

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1. Heat

Lice and nits need moisture to survive and thrive. “If you blast each section of the scalp in 30-second intervals, you’re on your way to being itch-free,” advises Caleb Backe, a certified health and wellness wxpert for Maple Holistics. Using this method will dehydrate the lice, which will eventually cause them to die.

2. Suffocation

Suffocating the lice? Yes, really. You can do this by using a pure, organic oil such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Says Backe, “Lice can hold their breath for up to eight hours, which is why you should coat your hair in the oil and then sleep with a shower cap over it throughout the night.” This method will kill the lice, but it won’t touch the nits, so make sure to comb them out to avoid having to repeat the process.

3. Essential oils

Diluting an essential oil into a carrier oil, like olive oil, can do wonders for getting rid of lice.

“Tea tree oil, in particular, is touted for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s potent enough to kill lice, as well as potentially reduce the number of eggs hatched,” Backe suggests. Apply the mixture evenly to your scalp and leave in overnight before rinsing out and combing with a lice comb.

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4. Medication

“Lice is most simply treated with an OTC permethrin or pyrethin containing lice treatments,” says dermatologist Susan Bard, MD

“Manually removing lice and nits is an option as well, but is much less effective if any lice or nits are missed. Therefore, I recommend a combination of both. I also recommend retreatment 7-10 days after the first treatment. If one chooses to avoid either of those ingredients, prescription spinosad (natroba) is another wonderful option and doesn't require nit-picking to be effective. But can be costly if not covered by your insurance.”

5. Wet-combing

Wet-combing is a popular removal technique, according to the British Medical Journal. Just condition wet strands of hair, using a fine-toothed comb, and, in some cases, a magnifying glass to clearly examine each strand of hair. Then, remove the individual lice.

But you should also get comfortable, because this method takes a while to finish.

6. Lice-killing shampoo

These contain insecticide, which works in killing adult bugs but may not work on the shell of the eggs. That means you’ll want to try repeating the wash nine or ten days after the first delousing, or the lice will come back.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at