Lice are a common problem in school-aged children and can be hard to get rid of. Lice can live for 24 to 48 hours on the human head and have a 21-day life cycle. The eggs, or nits, of lice can usually be seen in the hair and can cause itching.
The Kid’s Doctor, pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard says that you should only treat the person with an infestation. It is normally not necessary to treat the entire family or the entire house. The most common form of treatment is to use an over-the-counter product, like Nix, that contains permethrin.
However, Dr. Sue warns, these are sometimes not effective. “We are seeing more and more drug resistance to over-the-counter products that are out there for lice and it’s become more and more difficult to treat lice because of this.” Dr. Hubbard still recommends you use a permethrin product, but after two days if you still see lice in the head you should use a different product.
“If that happens, you need to contact your pediatrician and ask for a ‘second-line’ drug, which is prescription. It’s called Ovide and it contains malathion. That is combination with isopropyl alcohol and tea tree oil seems to be more effective than current over-the-counter products,” she says.
Dr. Hubbard says there is no need to try any of the urban legends of treatment like shaving, using gasoline or kerosene or even trying to suffocate with mayonnaise or olive oil. “Lice don’t have lungs, so you can’t smother them.” Dr. Hubbard also says it is important that you follow the directions for the product and continue with follow-up treatments.