Lice are tiny, parasitic insects that can take up residence in human hair. They are very contagious, and people often pick them up at work or school — sometimes after sharing hats or touching each other's hair. If you or someone in your household has lice, you can usually get rid of them on your own without having to seek medical care. Here are some tips to help you do so effectively.
Start with lice shampoo.
Most pharmacies sell shampoos that are medicated to treat lice. Most contain a substance called permethrin, which is the same chemical found in a lot of bug repellents. Buy a container of this shampoo, and use it according to the instructions on the package. Make sure you leave it on for the full recommended treatment period. For instance, if the bottle says to leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes, leave it on for 10 minutes.
Treat everyone in the house.
You might not think you have lice, but you could be at the beginning stages of an infestation. You would not want to treat someone in your home only to have lice yourself and spread them back to that other family member a few days later. It is therefore best to treat everyone in the home for lice at the same time, regardless of symptoms. Lice shampoo bottles usually contain quite a few ounces of shampoo, so unless you have a huge family, you should be able to treat everyone with one bottle.
Wet-comb the hair.
Even after you use the lice shampoo, you should wet down and comb through the hair of the person who had lice. Do this once a day. As you comb through the hair, pick out any nits that you see. These are the egg sacs of the lice. They can be quite stuck on the hair, but you can generally free them with a comb. This approach ensures no new nits are left behind to hatch and re-infest the person. Lice shampoos are not quite as effective at killing nits as adult lice, which is why this step is necessary. Again, do this for every person in your home. Use a clean comb each time.
With the tips above, you should have fairly good luck in getting rid of lice. If they persist, reach out to a local healthcare clinic. They may be able to prescribe a stronger shampoo or treatment.
For more information about lice removal, talk to a medical professional.