Infestation by head lice is characterized by an uncomfortably itchy scalp. Treatment with certain medication is sure to bring relief. Here, we give you step-wise instructions on how to use head lice treatment products for maximum benefit.
According to the Centers for Diseases Prevention and Control, annually in America, around 6-12 million children between the ages of 3 to 11 are infected with head lice.
Infection of the head hair and scalp with Pediculus humanus capitis causes infestation of head louse. It is characterized by uncomfortable itchy scalp that worsens by the end of 3-4 weeks. Sometimes, the itching could be so bad that it may not allow the person to sleep. Although, the reaction to the bite is fairly mild, continuous itching could damage the scalp, and that may harbor harmful bacteria. Most lice infestations are not serious; however, extremely severe cases of infestation could lead to fever and swelling of the lymph nodes.
Transmission of lice is due to direct contact and is not related to personal hygiene. As lice feed only on human blood, house pets do not play a role in their transmission. Sometimes, transmission can be of an indirect manner via sharing of headgear, clothes, and beds.
It is necessary to diagnose a lice infection by finding a live lice. A lice treatment product cannot be used as a preventive medication. Usually, topical application of drugs like malathion, ivermectin, pyrethroids, and silicone oil are helpful, but the effectiveness of these drugs is reducing due to growing immunity of lice.
Lice infestations are most commonly seen in children between the ages of 3-15 years. Girls are more prone to lice infestations than boys. If your child has been sent home due to a lice infestation, yet again, you can get rid of lice with the help of over-the-counter products. These products are available in the shampoo, cream, or lotion form. Here, we have provided some general instructions on how to use these products, along with some precautions.
- Wrap the towel around your child’s shoulders, this will prevent the cream/lotion from dripping on the clothes or body.
- In order to make sure that your treatment is successful, you must make sure that you apply the product to the entire scalp.
- Massage the product from the root to the tips of the hair. Start from the left side of your scalp and zigzag your way moving back and forth to the right.
- For the next step of application, begin at the nape of the neck and apply in a zigzag manner once again, making a crisscross pattern with the previously applied layer.
- After you have applied the product to the entire scalp, wait for about ten minutes.
- Now, depending on the instructions provided by the manufacturer, rinse the hair. Some products may suggest shampooing the hair after application, follow the instructions accordingly.
- To check whether the treatment is working, comb your hair thoroughly around 8 to 12 hours after the initial application. If you see very few lice or lice that seem to move very slowly, it means the treatment is taking effect.
- Most products suggest a reapplication after around 9 days if no improvement is observed.
- Do not use more than one lice treatment product at any given time. Also, do not use them on the eyebrows, eyelashes, etc., or on skin with open wounds or cuts.
- You could also remove nits from the hair, by combing wet hair with a lice comb between treatments.
- You need to follow a strict no-lice regime, bed sheets, pillow covers, blankets, and all other bedding need to be stripped and tumbled dried in a dryer at very high temperature or washed with hot water (60°C).
- All upholstery needs to be vacuumed thoroughly. All combs and brushes need to be sterilized by immersing them hot water (60°C) for 30 minutes or in isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes.
OTC Products for Treatment of Lice
There are many products available in the form of creams, shampoos, and lotions. Opting for FDA approved products like Nix, Rid, and Ulesfia are good options. While others like Cetaphil and Malathion lotion are also equally effective, their application procedures vary. They are applied on the hair and left for 8-10 hours, after which the hair is rinsed.
After you have finished treatment, check every week for any further signs of lice or nits. If you do come across any lice infestation, talk to your health care professional or doctor for further treatment, and also if you are unsure about the efficacy of any product or medication to treat head lice.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.