Head Lice Treatment
There are four kinds of head lice treatments: pesticide shampoos, natural essential oil shampoos, coating the hair in something greasy, manual removal of nits, and dangerous treatments that should be avoided. There are also other treatments for head lice that are intended to remove the lice from personal items so a reoccurrence doesn't happen.
Head Lice Treatment: Pesticide shampoos
Pesticide shampoos are the most common head lice treatments. There are over-the-counter versions of these shampoos, including Nix (active ingredient permethrin) and Rid (active ingredient Pyrethrin), and prescription versions available only from a doctor with active ingredients such as Malathion and lindane. All of these pesticide shampoos are more or less toxic so avoid using them more than necessary. If you've already successfully eradicated the lice and are just worried about a recurrence, switch to a more natural lice treatment.
Shampoos containing natural essential oils such as tea tree oil may help the problem and are not harmful in general so go ahead and try them, but don't rely on them as the sole solution to head lice problems because they are unproven.
Coating the hair in a greasy substance such as olive oil, mayonnaise, or hair conditioner and covering it in a plastic bag overnight may help with the manual removal of nits. They are extremely messy, so be prepared to deal with having to wash the hair multiple times.
Head Lice Treatments: Manual Removal of Nits
Head lice treatments that involve manual removal of nits include fine toothed combs, tweezers and cutting or shaving the hair. Fine toothed combs are the best way to remove nits but they only work on hair with reasonable thickness; if the child has baby-fine hair, they are better removed with tweezers. Both these head lice treatments take many hours to complete and are tedious work but they are the very best way to ensure that lice don't come back. Cutting or shaving the hair is quicker and also effective but it can be traumatic for a child.
Avoid these Treatments:
Head lice treatments that should be avoided because they are dangerous include dog shampoo, kerosene and petroleum jelly. Dog shampoo may work for lice because it contains similar active ingredients as the pesticide shampoos, but the concentration in dog shampoo is not rated safe for humans, so stick with the Nix, Rid or prescription lice shampoos. Kerosene may be poisonous to lice but it is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. A small spark could set your child on fire and kill or maim him or her. Petroleum jelly is also flammable, and it's nearly impossible to get out of the hair, so don't try this head lice treatment.
After Care Treatments for Head Lice
Once the hair has been properly treated for head lice, you need to treat clothing, bedding, outerwear, and personal objects such as stuffed animals and combs and brushes that may touch the head. Heat and cold are the most effective methods for treating these items, so wash items that can be laundered in hot water, and put the rest of them in the freezer for 24 hours.