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Lice - head; Nits; Pediculosis capitis - head lice
Lotions and shampoos containing 1% permethrin (Nix) often work well. They can be bought at the store without a prescription. If these do not work, a doctor can give you a prescription for stronger medicine. Such medicine should be used exactly as directed.
Ask your health care provider if you need to treat those who shared a bed or clothing with the person that has had lice.
An important part of treatment is removing the eggs (nits). Certain products make the nits easier to remove. Some dishwashing detergents can help dissolve the "glue" that makes the nits stick to the hair shaft.
Malathion 0.5% in isopropanol is FDA approved for the treatment of head lice. Apply it to dry hair until the hair and scalp are wet. Leave it on for 12 hours. Malathion may be useful for resistant infections.
Treatment can cause significant side effects in children younger than 6 months old, the elderly, and anyone weighing less than 110 lbs (50 kg), especially when the treatment is used repeatedly in a short period of time.
Click here to see a video about getting rid of lice in the home.
Lice are usually killed with proper treatment. However, lice may come back, especially if the source is not corrected. For example, a classroom with many infected children can cause kids to repeatedly get lice.
When one case is detected in a family or a school or child-care center, every child at that location should be examined for head lice. This can help prevent further spreading.
Some people will develop a secondary skin infection from scratching. Antihistamines can help relieve the itching.
Call your health care provider if symptoms continue after home treatment, or if you develop areas of red, tender skin, which could mean a possible infection.
Morelli JG. Arthropod bites and infestations. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 667.
Schlossberg D. Arthropods and leeches. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 380.
Diaz JH. Lice (pediculosis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 293.
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