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Head Lice Treatment and Household Cleaning

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To rid your household of head lice, you must treat the affected person(s) and properly clean the home. The following directions will help you in this process.


  1. Treat the person’s head with a head lice product such as RID, NIX or other available product. Be sure to read the products’ directions carefully since some are shampoos applied to dry hair and others are cream rinses used on freshly washed and towel dried hair. Some products cannot be used on very young children. Many products require another treatment in 7-10 days. This is a very important step. 
  2. For proper nit removal: 
    • Work under a good light, such as the natural sunlight. Sit by a window or go outdoors. A strong lamp can also be used. If eyesight is a problem, have a magnifying glass on hand.
    • (Nits (lice eggs) are always oval-shaped, usually greyish-white although they can vary in color. Nits are generally laid close to the scalp but can be found anywhere on the hair shaft.  Unlike dandruff, which can be removed easily, nits are attached firmly to the hair shaft.)
    • Use a grooming comb or hair brush to remove tangles. 
    • Divide the hair into sections and fasten off the hair that is not being worked on at this time.
    • Use a nit removal comb to comb through the section of hair from the scalp to the end of the hair. Use a paper towel to remove any lice, nits, or debris from the comb between passings.  (If debris builds up, use an old toothbrush to clean the comb.) Dispose of paper towel in a tied plastic garbage bag and remove from the home when done. 
    • Look carefully through that same section of hair for nits that are still attached.
    • If the lice comb does not remove the nits, use your fingernails and pull the nit down the length of the hair to remove or use safety scissors to snip the individual hair strands with attached nits. 
    • Go on to the next section of hair until all sections have been completed. 
  1. Even under the best of conditions, a few nits may be missed. Check the infested person every day for at least two weeks and regularly thereafter; remove any nits found. Discovering a nit or two over the next few days does not necessarily mean reinfestation. Being consistent about manual removal is important.
  2. Discovering additional nits (at least 3-5 per day) may mean that live lice may still be on the head.  Another thorough search through the hair is recommended at that time and retreatment following the above steps may be needed. 

Parents are encouraged to check their school-age children for head lice as part of routine hygiene at least weekly. 

Household Cleaning

ALL steps must be done on the same day of treatment or lice will be an ongoing problem. 

  1. Soak combs, brushes and hair accessories in hot water (150° F) for 10 minutes or soak them in lice shampoo for one hour. 
  2. Take sheets, pillowcases, blankets/mattress pads, and bedspreads off beds and wash and dry them on a hot setting. 
  3. Put pillows and non-washable bedding in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes, or hang them in direct sun for 6-8 hours, or seal them in a plastic bag for 14 days. 
  4. Put all stuffed animals or other toys that have hair/fur and that are slept with or played with frequently into sealed plastic bags for 14 days or wash and dry them on a hot cycle. 
  5. Vacuum all mattresses or run a hot iron over them, especially around any buttons. Wipe down waterbed mattresses with damp cloth.
  6. Make all beds with clean bedding. 
  7. Carefully vacuum all upholstered furniture, throw pillows and bean bag chairs. 
  8. Vacuum all carpets. 
  9. Vacuum all upholstered seats in your car (including car seats) and car carpets. 
  10. Throw vacuum bag away outside in sealed garbage bag when all vacuuming is done. 
  11. Wash and dry on a hot cycle all jackets, sweaters, hats and other clothing that has been worn or came in contact with the head in the last week.
  12. Take non-washable clothing to the dry cleaners or use an alternative treatment: hot dryer for 30 minutes; seal in a plastic bag for 14 days; or put in the freezer for 48 hours. 
  13. Notify all people who have recently been in contact with any members of your family who have head lice so that they can check their family members. This step is important to avoid reinfestation.