Lice: Removing Nits From Hair

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Topic Overview

Lice eggs (nits) stick to the hair and can be hard to remove. After treatment, some nits may survive. You don't have to remove all of the nits. But some people use a comb to remove nits after using lice medicine, because they don't like the look of nits in the hair. It is possible that if some eggs survive treatment and are not removed from the hair, they may persist.

The recommended way to treat lice is to use over-the-counter medicated creams, lotions, or shampoos that kill lice. After using medicine to treat lice, some people use a fine-toothed comb to remove head lice and their eggs. After you rinse the medicine from your hair, you can use a fine-toothed comb to remove nits. The combs are often packaged with over-the-counter lice shampoos. A flea comb that's made for dogs and cats will also work. This is called wet combing. To remove eggs and lice, wet your hair and add conditioner, vinegar, or olive oil. Then comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb. Comb for at least 15 minutes (until you find no more lice or eggs).

If two treatments of medicine do not kill the lice, you can try wet combing every few days. This process can take a lot of time, and you must make sure to get every louse and all eggs. Stop 2 to 3 weeks after the last session in which you found an adult louse.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Parasites: Lice. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/index.html.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics

Current as ofNovember 20, 2015