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Treating Head Lice
- Feeling of tickling or crawling in hair
- Itching or scratching
- Irritability, especially at night
- Sores on the head due to scratching
- Eggs or lice seen in the hair
Where Do the Little Critters Come From?
- Having contact with an already infested person during play at school or home
- Using infested combs, brushes, or towels
- Lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet, or stuffed animal that has recently been in contact with an infested person
How to Get Rid of the Little Critters
- Over-the-counter products, such as those containing pyrethrin or permethrin
- Prescription products, such as lindane and malathione—These may be prescribed because some cases of head lice are resistant to pyrethrin and permethrin.
- People weighing less than 110 pounds
- People with certain skin conditions
Beware Unproven Treatments
Tips for Preventing Head Lice
- Avoid head-to-head contact
- Do not share clothing or hair accessories
- Do not share combs, brushes, or towels
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov
Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Network Province of Manitoba http://www.gov.mb.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Dodd CS. Interventions for treating head lice. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(2):CD001165. Review.
FDA Public Health Advisory: safety of topical lindane products for the treatment of scabies and lice. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm110845.htmUpdated April 30, 2009. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Head lice. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 26, 2012. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Head Lice. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/index.html. Last updated November 2, 2010. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Hensel P. The challenge of choosing a pediculicide. Public Health Nurs. 2000 Jul-Aug;17(4):300-304.
Lindane. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Meinking TL, Serrano L, Hard B, Entzel P, Lemard G, Rivera E, Villar ME. Comparative in vitro pediculicidal efficacy of treatments in a resistant head lice population in the United States. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(2):220-224.
Mumcuoglu KY. Prevention and treatment of head lice in children. Paediatr Drugs. 1999;1(3):211-218.
Richardson M, Elliman D, Maguire H, et al. Evidence base of incubation periods, periods of infectiousness and exclusion policies for the control of communicable diseases in schools and preschools. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001;20(4):380-91.
12/14/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Burgess IF, Brunton ER, Burgess NA. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. Eur J Pediatr. 2010;169(1):55-62.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 02/2013
- Update Date: 02/11/2013