Frequently Asked Questions

How to treat & remove head lice

I have found the directions inside the OTC treatments to be confusing. What is the best method for using these products?

We recommend how to treat head lice by starting to apply the pediculicide to clean dry hair. The treatment should be applied in layers similar to the way a hair stylist applies hair colorant. Begin the application at the nape of the neck. Part the hair about every 1-1 ½ inches and squeeze some of the Rid or the LiceMD directly to the scalp along the part and then comb it through the length of the hair from the scalp all the way to the end of the hair shafts. For long thick hair it is helpful to divide the head in half and apply to the head on each side, pinning or ponying the dry hair out of the way. It may take 10 to 15 minutes or longer to apply the treatment properly, saturating the hair from root to tip all over the head. After the hair and scalp are saturated, massage the hair and scalp a bit. Then cover the hair with a disposable conditioning cap. Most products say to leave them on for ten minutes, but because the lice today are so hardy, we usually suggest leaving the treatment on the head for 30-40 minutes for children and up to an hour for adults. The timing begins after the treatment is completely applied. After waiting for whatever time you are comfortable with, it is necessary to add some warm water to the hair (the eyes of the person being treated should be covered with a dry towel) and the product should be lathered up like a shampoo for 3-5 minutes Finally, the product should be thoroughly rinsed out with warm water directly from the head down the drain. .( LiceMD can be hard to remove, so we recommend using Dawn dishwashing liquid for the first wash, and a shampoo for a second wash, followed by a sectioned conditioner comb out.)

How to Remove Head Lice; what is the best tool for nit combing?

We strongly recommend the patented NPA Lice Meister Comb. There are other metal combs on the market, and some claim they have outperformed the Lice Meister in clinical studies, but we have found that the other combs may cause more discomfort for the person on whom they are being used. The plastic combs that are typically found inside the treatment boxes are completely useless. For more information on the Lice Meister Comb please refer to the NPA (National Pediculosis Association) website, www.headlice.org.

Can a person have nits but not lice?

Not really. If the person has been treated with something to kill the lice, then they may have nits without bugs, but an untreated head with nits must also have at least one adult female louse, and typically, she (the louse) has friends.

If a person is treated with an OTC product, doesn’t that mean all of the nits are dead?

No. These products aren’t designed to kill the louse that is developing inside the nit. The only product that is available to kill the nits is prescription Ovide and Sklice. It is our opinion that the Ovide product is too toxic to be a reasonable treatment option. Furthermore, there is only about a 20% chance that OTC products will kill the nits, and there is no efficient way to distinguish between viable and unviable nits. Thorough and diligent nit removal is the best option if eradication is to be achieved.

Can a person be treated successfully with natural products such as olive oil, mayonnaise, or petroleum jelly?

There are no guarantees with any of the treatment options, and any treatment is only as good as the person who is administering it. It is very difficult to suffocate lice. If these techniques are used, they must be combined with tremendous amounts of nit combing to remove all bugs and nits. In our opinion, isolation of the infested person is mandatory for not less than two days, since the method leaves a big margin for human error. We recommend using OTC treatments twice at a ten-day interval while using the other methods as back up in between. It is crucial to break through the life cycle of the lice by getting all of the bugs and eggs out of the head before new generations are allowed to prosper.

What is the life cycle of lice?

A nit will hatch between 7 and 10 days after an adult female louse has laid it. The nymph will grow and molt 3 times in the next 10 to 12 days to become an adult. There is usually 1 male louse to every 5 female lice, and the females need to mate once before laying nits for the rest of their lives. The females usually lay one nit every 3 to 4 hours, and they tend to live for a total of 30 to 32 days.

Is it true that the products continue to work killing the lice for 24 to 48 hours after use?

Most of the products make some questionable promises, but it is generally believed that there may be some continued effect of the products. Sometimes people report product failure because they find live lice after treatment, but it may mean that the bug is just not dead yet. It is also suggested that substances such as vinegar, conditioner, and alcohol may interrupt the residual effectiveness of the products. It is our opinion that diligent nit combing following treatment is essential, and this requires complete detangling. If the hair cannot be detangled without the help of conditioner, than I think we have to risk compromising the residual effectiveness.