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How To Get Rid Of Nits

Updated on November 28, 2011

How To Get Rid Of Nits

The first sign of head lice is often the presence of nits - the hatched, empty eggshell of the animal. Usually these are a good indicator that you or your child are infested with nits. While lice and nits are often associated with bad hygiene, this is not the case - lice will gladly colonize clean and dirty hair alike. Their main (and only) method of transmission is by crawling along a hair to another hair - head lice don't jump. Schools and other places of close physical contact are good transmission vectors for lice.

The most important thing when treating head lice is not to panic - it won't help you, and it certainly won't help your child. Before applying any kind of treatment, make sure that you have positively identified the nits, and have found live head lice. If the infestation has been going on for a longer period of time, there may be a rash at the base of the scalp as well as itching and irritation across the head.

This article will show you how to get rid of nits, and how to make sure they're really gone. I'll discuss various treatment methods - from the conventional (and currently best) to the more adventurous types. Be aware that for children, the only method I can recommend is wet combing; it has the least side effects - physical as well as psychological.

As usual, it is always recommended to visit a medical professional. They may be able to offer alternate and more efficient methods of treatment.


The Wet-Comb Method

The simplest method of head lice removal is also the most effective: combing. Specifically, wet-combing. The only special equipment you'll need for this is a very fine-toothed comb - something you can pick up in any pharmacy.

The wet-comb method:

  • Wash the hair thoroughly, and apply abundant conditioner.
  • Comb the hair normally until the comb moves through it smoothly. Then switch to the fine-toothed comb.
  • Comb through the hair bit by bit, making sure to cover every inch. This should take at least 30 minutes.
  • Repeat every 3-4 days for two weeks - usually the fifth, ninth, and thirteenth day after the first treatment.

This method is effective at removing the lice directly, and the repetition will make sure you also cover any eggs that you may have missed.

The advantages of this method are that you don't need any medicated products, and that there are no side effects. It is also very effective, and is usually the method recommended by medical professionals. It is also the only method I will recommend to be used on children.

Medicated Treatment Options

There are three main options open to those who prefer chemical treatments. Please note that the method above is the most effective, and that the treatments outlined below are only provided for completeness.

Insecticide-based products: Insecticides usually kill by a number of means - most commonly neural damage. A few insecticides for head lice exist, and are available commercially either as shampoos or as sprays. Head lice have developed resistance to some of these, so be sure to ask your pharmacist which ones are effective.

Silicon-based products: Silicon-based products work by covering the lice and their eggs, and by cutting off their air supply. While undeniably effective, the treatment should be repeated a few times, since the eggs are somewhat resistant.

Alcohol-based products: Alcohol applied topically to the head has been shown to be effective, but can cause irritations and dryness of skin.

Final Notes

As an adult, the most effective method of getting rid of lice is simply shaving your head or cutting the hair very short. While this is usually not popular, it is unarguably effective, especially if you're dealing with a particularily tenacious infestation. I strongly recommend against shaving children's heads, as they will have to deal with their peers, and may suffer psychologically.

I am aware that there are natural remedies that can be used to get rid of lice (such as aniseed or coconut oil). Since they haven't been proven to be effective yet, and the wet-comb method is perfectly natural, I've decided not to include them.


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 6 years ago from Mason City

      The wet comb method does sound like the best method for sure. Great hub. The photo is really good, too. Great advice.