Head Lice (cont.)
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Head lice facts
- What are head lice?
- How common is head lice infestation?
- Who is at risk for getting head lice?
- How in the world does a child get head lice?
- What do head lice look like?
- Where are head lice most commonly found?
- What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?
- How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a head lice infestation (pediculosis)?
- My child has head lice. I don't. Should I treat myself to prevent being infested?
- Should my pets be treated for head lice?
- My child is under 2 years of age and has been diagnosed with head lice. Can I treat my child with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?
- What OTC medications are available to treat head lice?
- What is the prescription drug used to treat head lice?
- Are any home remedies effective at getting rid of head lice?
- Which head lice medicine is best for me?
- What are the rules with head lice medicines?
- How can I prevent head lice?
- Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
- Should I have a pest-control company spray my house?
- What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?
Which head lice medicine is best for me?
If you are unsure, please consult with your pharmacist or health-care professional.
What are the rules with head lice medicines?
When using head lice medicine, as with any medicine, always follow the instructions provided.
When treating head lice,
- do not use extra amounts of the lice medication,
- do not treat the infested person more than two times with the same medication (if it does not seem to work, see your health-care professional),
- do not mix different head-lice medications.
How can I prevent head lice?
It's not always so easy to prevent head lice 100% of the time since it is a common infestation. Whenever possible, do not share hats or head coverings. Also avoid sharing combs and brushes with other individuals, since it can be transferred this way. If exposed to another individual diagnosed with head lice, continue to check the hair for eggs or adult lice every couple of days, but do not treat unless head lice are discovered.
Should household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
No. Spraying the house is not recommended. Fumigants and room sprays can be toxic if inhaled.
Should I have a pest-control company spray my house?
No. Vacuuming floors and furniture is sufficient to treat the house.
What is the prognosis of a head lice infestation?
Once diagnosed and treated effectively, the prognosis is excellent. Eradication is of course the goal, and occasionally retreatment and alternative treatments are needed. Always consult your health-care professional if you need advice.
Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, MD, MBA, FAAFP; Diplomat American Board of Family Medicine
Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Lice, Scabies and Your Skin
American Academy of Pediatrics. "Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)." Red Book, 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009.
Chosidow, O. "Oral Ivermectin Versus Malathion Lotion for Difficult-to-Treat Head Lice." New England Journal of Medicine 362 Mar. 2010: 896-905.
Feldmeier, H. "Pediculosis Capitis: New Insights Into Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Treatment." Eur J Clin Microbiolo Infect Dis. Mar. 2012.
Frankowski, Barbara and Joseph A. Bocchini Jr. "Clinical Report: Head Lice, a Policy Update." Pediatrics 126.2 Aug. 2010: 392-403.
Gunning, K., K. Pippitt, B. Kiraly, and M. Sayler. "Pediculosis and scabies: treatment update." American Family Physician 86.6 Sept. 2012: 535-541.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Head Lice." May 16, 2008.
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