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8 Ways to Treat Head Lice

Getting head lice is a rite of passage for most children. Although you can’t prevent it as a parent, you can prepare for it by brushing up on this eight-step plan to treat head lice.

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Mother checking child's hair for head licePhoto: ShutterStock

1. Use a medicated shampoo formulated to treat head lice

Use a delousing shampoo, and leave it in your hair or your child’s hair for 10 minutes. That’s a long time to spend in the shower, so you may prefer to do your shampooing in the bathtub, where you can read or listen to music while the shampoo does its job.

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Mother rinsing child's hair with lice treatmentPhoto: ShutterStock

2. Rinse hair with vinegar

After you rinse out the medicated shampoo, rinse it again using 50 per cent water and 50 per cent white kitchen vinegar. The vinegar helps dissolve the bodies of dead nits. Rub it in vigorously, then rinse your hair a few times to dispel the odour.

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Oil and vinegar cruetsPhoto: ShutterStock

3. Try oil and vinegar


Use the louse-killing shampoo again 10 days later. If you’re still not getting results, mix a half-cup vinegar with a half-cup olive oil. About an hour before you take your bath or shower, apply this mixture to your hair, working it in close to the scalp. Put a shower cap over your hair. After an hour, remove the cap and take your shower, washing your hair with regular shampoo.

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Mayonnaise swirlPhoto: ShutterStock

4. Treat head lice with mayonnaise


If you’re wary of synthetic pesticides, you may be able to smother lice while you sleep. First, saturate the hair and scalp with mayonnaise, then put on a shower cap. The next morning, lice should be dead. Unfortunately, you can’t smother the louse eggs, you’ll still have to remove them by hand.

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Mom washing little girl's hairPhoto: ShutterStock

5. Apply petroleum jelly to the hair


Petroleum jelly can have a stifling influence on roaming lice. Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the scalp, then cover with a shower cap. Leave it on overnight. In the morning, use baby oil or mineral oil to remove the petroleum jelly, and the lice along with it. Repeat several nights in a row. (One warning, though: it may take a lot of shampooing before you get all the petroleum jelly out of your hair!)

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Essential oils and lavenderPhoto: ShutterStock

6. Treat head lice with essential oils


Essential oils can kill lice and help soothe the itching. There are many different “recipes.” One effective combination is 20 drops tea-tree oil, 10 drops rosemary oil, and 15 drops each of lemon (or thyme) and lavender oil mixed into 4 tablespoons vegetable oil. Rub the mixture into your dry hair, cover your head with a plastic shower cap, then wrap that with a towel. After an hour, unwrap your head, shampoo well, and rinse.

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Hair brushes and combsPhoto: ShutterStock

7. Quarantine hair products


When it’s discovered that someone in the family has lice, keep all combs and brushes separate. And make sure no one come into contact with hats, scarves, hair ribbons, etc., that have been worn by the affected person.

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Child sleeping in bedPhoto: ShutterStock

8. Sterilize household fabrics


After treating the lice, wash clothing, bedding and other textiles that have been used by the affected person in hot, sudsy water. Seal non-washable items in plastic bags for a week (or three days in the refrigerator).