Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You can get rid of lice with a patient, thorough approach that involves cleaning yourself or your child and any personal belongings that may be contaminated.

These steps may help you eliminate lice infestations:

  • Use lotions and shampoos. Choose from among several over-the-counter lotions and shampoos (Nix, Rid, others) designed to kill lice. Apply the product according to package instructions. You may need to repeat treatment with the lotion or shampoo in seven to 10 days. These lotions and shampoos typically aren't recommended for children under age 2.
  • After shampoo treatment, rinse your hair with vinegar. Grasp a lock of hair with a cloth saturated with vinegar and strip the lock downward to remove nits. Repeat until you've treated all the hair in this way. Or soak hair with vinegar and leave it on for a few minutes before combing. Then towel-dry the hair. These methods can help remove nits from the hair shaft. Cutting hair very short also can help.
  • Comb wet hair. Use a fine-toothed or nit comb to physically remove the lice from wet hair. Repeat every three to four days for at least two weeks. This method may be used in combination with other treatments and is usually recommended as the first line treatment for children under age 2.
  • Wash contaminated items. Wash bedding, stuffed animals, clothing and hats with hot, soapy water — at least 130 F (54 C) — and dry them at high heat for at least 20 minutes.
  • Seal unwashable items. Place them in an airtight bag for two weeks.
  • Vacuum. Give the floor and furniture a good vacuuming.
  • Cover furniture. Use a plastic painter's dropcloth to cover furniture for two weeks to prevent acquiring another case of lice. Don't do this if you have a toddler who may become tangled in a plastic sheet and suffocate.
  • Wash combs and brushes. Use very hot, soapy water — at least 130 F (54 C) — or soak combs and brushes in rubbing alcohol for an hour.
May. 22, 2012