Many of us have a core memory of the dreaded lice checks in elementary school. Lice are extremely common, especially among young children, who often spend time in close quarters with their siblings and peers.

Lice are tiny, parasitic insects that feed on human blood and can cause itching and discomfort. They can spread quickly through close contact with an infected person.

Knowing the best ways of handling this skin-crawling situation can help ease the discomfort for the entire household.

Several homeopathic, over-the-counter, and prescription treatments are available for lice, as well as some best practices to avoid or minimize the spread.

Over-the-counter lice treatments

Over-the-counter lice treatments, such as shampoos and lotions, are good options that contain chemicals that kill lice. These treatments are usually effective, but they may cause side effects, such as skin irritation, and they may not work for everyone.

One of the main reasons over-the-counter head lice treatments are ineffective is they are not used as directed. If you have applied the shampoo or lotion correctly, you shouldn’t see any crawling head lice after the first treatment.

If you are still seeing live lice, then you may have missed a step, or the treatment is not effective against this type of lice.

Prescription treatments

Prescription treatments contain stronger chemicals, but they may also cause side effects and, as their title implies, require a prescription from a doctor.

A 24 hour urgent care center can be a helpful resource for diagnosing, treating, and providing a necessary prescription.

At the clinic, a medical professional will examine the scalp and hair for the presence of lice and their eggs before suggesting the most effective treatment options for your case.

It’s important to note that both over-the-counter and prescription treatments generally require the manual removal of lice and their eggs from the hair using a fine-toothed comb after the medication is applied.

Home remedies

Some people treat lice with home remedies like vinegar, mayonnaise, or essential oils like tea tree.

While these remedies may help, they are generally less effective than medical treatment options.

Lice prevention

It’s important to teach children best practices for prevention.

Avoid head-to-head contact during play in public places such as schools or daycare, playgrounds, slumber parties, and locker rooms. Also, it’s best not to share clothing like hats, scarves, helmets, sports uniforms, or items meant for hair care, such as towels, combs, brushes, hair ties, and headphones.

Finally, do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that are shared.

Stopping the spread

If someone in your household does come home with lice, vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the person with lice sat. Head lice survive less than one or two days if they fall off the scalp and lose their food source.

Disinfect items that have been in contact with the head of a person with lice 48 hours before treatment. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, pillows, and other items using hot water (over 130 degrees Fahrenheit) and a high-heat drying cycle.

Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for at least two weeks.

Bottom line

Lice infestations are extremely common, and there are several treatments available, including over-the-counter treatments, prescription treatments, home remedies, and prevention methods to reduce risk or duration.

Common services provided by urgent care centers include in-person & virtual care for cold and flu symptoms, allergic reactions, physical examinations, and more

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