March 28th, 2011
08:41 AM ET

How should I treat my daughter's lice?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

My 10-year-old daughter was just treated for lice for the third time this school year. What's the best way to get rid of them, and how can I make sure she doesn't get it again?

Asked by Carol of Dunwoody, Georgia

Thanks for your question. Head lice is very common in children, especially between 3 and 12 years of age. The insects can be found crawling around the hairline and lay their eggs on the hair shafts close to a person's scalp. Lice do not carry infectious diseases and are not a sign of a person's cleanliness, but they are a nuisance and can be difficult to treat.

Lice are transmitted from one person to another by direct contact (lice must crawl from one head to another; they do not jump or fly), and can spread during sleepovers or when working or playing closely together. The insects may also move from one person to another if objects such as hats or hairbrushes are shared.

The key to getting rid of lice is to remove all live lice and prevent eggs that are attached to the hair from hatching. There are many possible treatments, ranging from physically removing the bugs and their eggs from the hair to using medicated products to kill the lice and/or their eggs. If the eggs are not removed, they may hatch after a week or two, and the process to get rid of the live lice would then need to be repeated.

• Picking or combing. Both lice and eggs may be removed by painstakingly picking out or finely combing all parts of the hair. This process may need to be repeated for several days or even a few weeks to make sure everything has been removed.

• Home remedies. Many people have tried smothering lice by leaving household products such as mayonnaise, vinegar, or petroleum jelly on the hair overnight and then washing it out the next morning. Cetaphil cleanser has also been reported to treat lice. It should go without saying that one should not use potentially toxic products such as gasoline or kerosene - although they may kill the lice, they are also hazardous to children. Bottom line: If the home remedy is not harmful, it may be worth a try.

• Dry heat. A special machine called the LouseBuster delivers a controlled amount of heated air to dry hair with the goal of killing both lice and their eggs. It is designed for use by trained individuals in settings such as schools, camps, or clinics. Regular hair dryers can cause live lice to become airborne and spread to other people nearby and are therefore not recommended.

• Medicated treatments. Over-the-counter medicated lotions such as permethrin (Nix) and pyrethrin formulations (RID or Pronto) can be very effective in killing live lice. Prescription treatments such as benzyl alcohol (Ulesfia) and malathion (Ovide) may be successful even if the lice are resistant to the over-the-counter preparations. Ask your doctor which one is recommended in your community, and be sure to follow the product directions regarding how much to use, whether to apply to wet or dry hair, and how long to leave it on before washing. These products often need to be repeated within 7 to 10 days.

• Lice removal services. Some caregivers may choose to outsource the lice removal process to companies dedicated to getting rid of head lice. These companies may rely upon a combination of the above therapies.

• Treat the environment. It can be helpful to wash and dry clothing and bedding using hot water and high heat and to vacuum furniture, carpets, and car seats. Consider placing items that are difficult to wash (such as stuffed animals and pillows) in a plastic bag for two weeks to be sure that any remaining eggs will not hatch and survive.

• Avoid contact with lice. Even if you successfully remove all the lice and eggs from your daughter's hair, it's possible to be reinfested by someone else who has not been adequately treated. Teach children to be extra careful to avoid touching heads with one another. It's also a good idea to keep hats, jackets, combs, brushes, towels, and other personal items separated, although once a louse has been removed from its human host, it will die within a day or two unless it finds another warm scalp to live on.

• Extreme measures. While shaving a child's hair can definitely also remove lice and eggs, this drastic step is often not necessary.

Please be sure to contact your child's pediatrician if you have any other questions. Good luck!

soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. Hobert Berkey

    Get Our Passive Income System – Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Run our Premium Unlimited Traffic Step 3: Setup your Paypal account. Then just sit back and relax while you watch your paypal account receiving payments during the whole day 100 in auto pilot. More info: https://www.k3reviews.com/2020/08/16/monster-mode-700k/


    February 13, 2021 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AbcfTeneseelt

    viagra austrlia http://viagriyvik.com/ what\'s better viagra cialis levitra

    February 13, 2021 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JbnvCrulk

    no credit check no fax no employment verification payday loans us bank cash advance faq payday loans williams blvd kenner

    February 13, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. https://topphimhot.net

    best i have ever seen !


    February 13, 2021 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Reliable Private Proxies

    Very instructive and excellent body structure of written content, now that's user pleasant (:.


    February 14, 2021 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mertie

    Most people in my area have no clue that fast hair growth shampoos (obviously without any sulfates, parabens or DEA) are even a thing. Persons now may possess longer hair and experience more possibilities. Surely worth considering.

    Whether you're dealing with hair loss, hair damage, preventing scalp disorders, hair growth, hair health in general, almost the same ideas come to mind.

    In most cases, you have to avoid hair treatments and products that contain chemicals like parabens, DEA or sulfates.

    What is beneficial for your hair is beneficial for your skin also.

    Obviously your content on this page hits the nail in the head for so many reasons. It stays away from the accustomed errors and pitfalls so many fall into: getting horrible alternatives. Keep up the great content!


    February 15, 2021 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JbbnEncox

    flowmax and cialis cialis 5 mg bph cialis aangeboden

    February 15, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. AExpowly

    positive quotes during quarantine community bible.church positive correlation graph examples , positive adjectives to use in an interview planning process lessons , community action agency naranja https://bitly.com/2Nrmuwq+# positive words about yourself friends j cole lyrics bridges community center kenosha , community action utility assistance .
    positive quotes new day positive affirmations everyday community colleges offering bachelor's degrees near me positive correlation other word . planning process flowchart positive adjectives and verbs community radiology positive adjectives about self community advocates near me .

    February 15, 2021 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. AhbzEncox

    payday loans on prepaid credit cards advance cash aberdeen wa cash loan madison wi

    February 15, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 1000000GSA Backlinks

    Create a profitable digital marketing strategy and plan: https://www.seoclerk.com/Virtual-Assistant/840836/I-will-create-a-profitable-digital-marketing-strategy-and-plan


    February 16, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. LabxEncox

    cialis für junge männer how to deal with back pain from cialis es malo tomar cialis diario

    February 17, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. NbnhZisse

    where to buy viagra online in australia http://vigedon.com/ generic viagra medication

    February 17, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FbsgZisse

    generic cialis mastercard cheap cialis online cialis softtabs online

    February 18, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. BEnadyfado

    community action partnership rochester nh first community bank locations near me community first credit union manitowoc wi , cast of community planning process group pmbok ,
    community aid eastwood positive words poster positive reinforcement dog jumping community action agency new york .

    February 19, 2021 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. SocialMedia Services2021

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery Our Website: https://smmsupreme.com/services


    February 19, 2021 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Nardil Champion

    Nardil is known as the "Gold Standard" for social anxiety. It literally cured mine.


    February 19, 2021 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. The Best Proxy

    Thanks for the tips you have contributed here. Something important I would like to convey is that personal computer memory demands generally increase along with other innovations in the technologies. For instance, whenever new generations of cpus are brought to the market, there is usually a matching increase in the type calls for of all pc memory and hard drive space. This is because the application operated by these processor chips will inevitably rise in power to make new engineering.


    February 20, 2021 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    February 22, 2021 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    February 23, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    February 23, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. KndnMile

    liquid viagra performance anxiety viagra viagra pill price

    February 26, 2021 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    February 28, 2021 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Leave a Reply to Erithaidede


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.