What are the Best Tips for Killing Head Lice?

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  • Written By: Bethney Foster
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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The best tips for killing head lice refer to how the parasites are removed from the hair. Removing the nits and lice from hair is the first step in effectively killing head lice. Among the best tips for killing head lice is to use a nit comb to methodically go through sections of hair. While working through the hair, work under the best possible lighting situations so that no lice or nits are missed. Natural light is usually the most effective.

Head lice are tiny parasites that infect human hair and lay their eggs, often referred to as nits, on the hair or scalp. Children are most commonly infected because head lice spread from person-to-person contact and through contact with infected personal items, such as combs, blankets, and coats. An infection of head lice is not a medical emergency, and it doesn’t mean the infected person has poor hygiene.

The first step in killing head lice is to decide what type of product to use to kill the parasites. There are many different shampoos available that are designed for killing head lice. Most of these contain permethrin. Permethrin is a pesticide, so it’s important to follow dosing directions and other instructions exactly. Too little of the product will be ineffective, and too much could be dangerous.


While the shampoo will take care of adult lice, in order to effectively end the head lice infestation, the nits must be removed. Some medical professionals recommend rubbing olive oil into the hair before using a metal nit comb to loosen the nits from the hair shaft. Others recommend running the comb through beeswax before starting because the wax will make the nits more likely to adhere to the comb’s teeth.

Killing head lice also involves treating the environment. Clothing, bedding, and other potentially contaminated materials should be washed in hot water and dried in an electric clothes dryer. Any headgear, such as caps, barrettes, or hats, should be thrown out or thoroughly cleaned to avoid re-infestation. Combs, brushes, and curling irons should also be thrown out or thoroughly cleaned. Frequent vacuuming of carpet, upholstered furniture, and vehicles is also effective in ending a head lice infestation.

For infestations that do not respond to other treatment, Malathion is approved for killing head lice. It is applied to the hair and allowed to remain for 12 hours. Treatment with Malathion can cause side effects in children, elderly people, and others.


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