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Over the Counter Lice Treatments

Updated on March 12, 2011

Head Lice Infestations

Has your child ever come home from school with head lice? If not, chances are that you will experience this at some point. Head lice are now at epidemic levels, thanks to the tolerance they now have to the over-the-counter lice treatments that are on the market.

Just the way that mosquitoes have developed a tolerance to many of the bug sprays that we use and bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, head lice are now mostly resistant to lice treatments like Nix and Rid. It's harder than ever now to kill had lice because of this tolerance.

According to Discover magazine (February, 2007), up to 80 percent of all head lice are now immune to these lice poisons. That has meant an explosion of the lice problem in schools and anywhere else that people gather. Here are a few ways that people can kill lice for good without depending on the poisons that no longer work.

Lice Combs

One of the few types of commercial lice treatments that really work is a simple lice comb. Lice combs are ones that are used to comb through the hair, trapping lice in the very tightly-spaced teeth of the comb. If you've ever used a flea comb, then you've seen this concept in action.

Of course, there are usually a lot more lice present with a human lice infestation than there are fleas with a flea infestation because lice are far smaller, and they multiply quickly and in rapid numbers. This means that vigilant combing is needed to get rid of lice completely.

To treat lice and get rid of lice completely requires thorough combing every day for a 10 days in order to kill lice that are newly hatched. Even lice killing treatments that do work don't kill the eggs that are left behind. The frequent combing will ensure that all of the new lice are removed from the hair as soon as they hatch. leaving new lice in the hair even for a few days means that more eggs will be laid.

To use lice combs correctly, comb the scalp, not just the hair. The scalp is where the live lice are located. To remove them, press the comb against the scalp hard enough to scrape the lice away. Scoop the comb upward to get the lice out of the hair.

You can do this on your own head, if needed, though you may want someone to take a look at your scalp to see whether there are any lice still visible. Parents can go over a child's head with the comb regularly to kill any lice that may hatch from any eggs that may have been left from the last combing.

Treating the House

Even if you are vigilant about killing lice on all the heads in the home, there may still be some lice clinging to the sheets, blankets and stuffed animals.

You don't need any special lice treatments to get rid of the bugs on those objects. Instead, just wash everything with hot water and dry it on the heat cycle. If it isn't washable, set it aside for about two weeks. Keeping small items in a sealed plastic baggie for two weeks can keep the items from being used before they are free from bugs. That is enough time for the eggs to have hatched and the new lice to die.

Be sure to vacuum the floors regularly to keep any lice or eggs from living in the carpet temporarily. Hatched lice can only live for two or three days away from a scalp, but eggs may be there for 10 days and hen may hatch there. If you have kids who spend time on the floors, and most kids do, you need to be vigilant about the vacuuming. 

With the heads taken care of and the lice around the house are gone, the lice infestation will be over. To keep a new lice problem from emerging, check the scalps of those who live in the house periodically to keep a small problem from turning into a major ordeal.

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