Free Lice Advice



Although this treatment may seem overwhelming and intimidating, each of these steps is necessary to end a cycle of lice. If you follow all of these steps you will be lice-free. Please do not pick and choose which steps to do or not do, because they are all necessary. Here are the five steps to get rid of lice:

  1. Kill the live lice  
  2. Get the eggs off of the head  
  3. Clean your environment  
  4. Inform your community  
  5. Follow-up treatment    


Step 1: Kill the live lice

There are many over-the-counter treatments available but sadly most of them are ineffective. Some pediculicides (lice poisons/pesticides) do not work well or at all. Some are poisonous to humans. The lice that are alive today are resistant to poisons. For the best results, use oils. Silicone-based oils like dimethicone oil work really well. Many of the non-toxic remedies contain this oil, which is safe (it's actually found in most cosmetics). Some people find that olive oil works best. Others use combinations of rosemary oil, tea tree oil, castor seed oil, cinnamon oil, etc. to kill the live lice. Some people use mayonnaise because it is made with oil and vinegar. Since most people don't feel like experimenting to figure out which oil and which combinations work, here are a few remedies that are available on the market that actually do work:

Quit Nits : this kit contains an oil that is left on the head for four hours, or must be left on the head overnight for serious infestation, but effectively kills the live lice. Whole Foods market carries this kit, which includes a spray-on repellent for preventing re-infestation in the days following treatment. Lice Links

The Nit Nanny: Lice and Scalp Treatment: this product is an oil that takes 15 minutes and effectively kills the live lice. Available from the Lice Lifters. Lice Links

LiceMD: this product takes 10 minutes and effectively kills the live lice. Available at some corner pharmacies. Lice Links

These products kill the lice, but not the nits (eggs). Now you must get rid of the eggs. 


Step 2: Egg Removal

Many products claim to kill the nits (lice eggs). Please know that these statements are often just plain lies. The only way to eliminate lice is to kill the live lice and manually remove the eggs. Egg removal is rather simple but you must have a really good metal nit comb. Nit Free (picture of nit comb) is the best brand out there. Wet and towel-dry the head. With a regular brush or comb, work some conditioner through the entire length of the hair to remove knots. Next, in a small bowl, make a paste of 1 part regular hair conditioner (Pantene Medium-Thick, Frizzy to Smooth works best) and 1 part baking soda. (the baking soda helps act as a grit to pull the eggs off of the hair). Dip the nit comb into the paste before each stroke and comb through each section of the hair. Make sure to scrape along the scalp each time. The nits (eggs) are usually very close to the scalp. After each stroke, wipe the paste onto a moist white paper towel to remove the nits and dead lice (they will be visible against the white background of the towel). Do this to the entire head, and repeat in all four directions: nape to forehead, forehead to nape, right to left, and left to right. Be sure to comb the entire head. This process is sometimes referred to as a "comb-out" or "nit combing".


Step 3 :Clean Your Environment

There are four different ways to treat your environment for lice. Any of these will kill the lice.

1. Wash items in hot water in a clothes washer or dishwasher


2. Seal items in a plastic bag for 1 week


3.Vacuum the item 


4. Dry items on high heat for 30 minutes in a clothes dryer 


Here are some items that should be treated in your environment:

  • any tools, combs, towels, or clothes that were used during the treatments and combings must be treated as instructed above     
  • bedding (sheets, pillow cases and blankets), pillows  
  • rugs, carpets  
  • hats, scarves, jackets  
  • book bags, gym bags  
  • car upholstery, car seats  
  • couches, sofas, easy chairs, throw pillows  
  • stuffed animals  
  • clothing and dress-up clothes  
  • all hair accessories  
  • hairbrushes and combs  


Step 4: Inform Your Community

This is probably the most important step in getting rid of lice and preventing re-infestation. People often don't want to tell anyone in their community for fear of embarrassment. There is nothing to be embarrassed about at all! If you have lice, you got it from someone you know. They may not even know that they have lice. It is important to let everyone around you know about your case of lice. If you do not tell those around you that you have it, you are not giving those people a chance to take preventive measures or get rid of their lice while it is in the beginning stages of infestation (not to mention the fact that they will likely, therefore, give it back to you!). Put yourself in someone else's shoes... Would you want to know if your family has been exposed to lice? Absolutely.

Who to tell about your lice:

  • Teachers of infected children     
  • The school nurse  
  • Anyone who has been in your home during your infestation     
  • Anyone whose home you have slept in during your infestation     
  • Playmates of infected children.      
  • Babysitters of infected children    


Step 5: Follow-Up

For the next 21 days, it is important to remain vigilant about treatment. The life cycle of a louse is usually about 21 days at maximum. (A life cycle is different from a life span, which for a louse is around 30 days.) An adult louse lays an egg on Day 1. The egg hatches around Day 8. The nymph becomes an adult around Day 15. The adult starts to lay eggs around day 16. Therefore it is important to keep treating your child for the 21 days in case you missed an egg when combing - otherwise you'll be fully re-infested before you know it.

Here is an easy way to keep track of your treatment. This may seem like too much work, but it is a surefire way to get lice out of your life. Get your calendar out and mark the days!

Day 1: Treat the hair with something (See step 1) to kill the live lice. Do a Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2). Clean your environment using the steps above. Your child can go back to school after this step is complete.

Day 3: Do a second Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2). With a major infestation you may still get a few eggs on this day.

Day 7: Treat the hair with something (See step 1) to kill the live lice. Do a Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2).  You should be seeing less and less eggs now. It's a good idea to treat bedding and pillows again.

Day 10: Do a third Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2) you should not be seeing many nits at this point.

Day 14: Treat the hair with something (See step 1) to kill the live lice. Do a Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2). You should not be seeing many nits at this point.

Day 17: Do a fourth Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2) you should not be seeing any nits at this point.

Day 21: Do a fifth Nit-combing to remove any eggs (see step 2) If you haven't found anything since day 14, you are lice-free.

Ongoing: Check your head once a week or every other week until the outbreak has ended in your community. To take steps toward avoiding lice in the future, go to Prevention .