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How do I get rid of my 17-month-old's head lice?

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There is no real straightforward answer to your question.


There is no real straightforward answer to your question. The usual treatment of head lice involves the use of medicated shampoos, lotions, or crème rinses that contain insecticides; these insecticides have not been tested in children under the age of 2. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the child’s own physician make the decision on whether or not to use these medications. So, your first step is to contact your daughter’s health care provider.

One non-medical option your provider may recommend is to comb for nits. Nits are the eggs laid by the head lice and are often found close to the scalp. You will need a "lice comb," a special fine tooth comb found at drugstores.

To begin, wet your daughter’s hair, as it is easier to comb when wet, and drape a towel around her shoulders. Starting at the top of the head, take a very small section of hair—about 1 inch by 1/2 inch—and put the comb into the hair as close to the scalp as possible. Pull the comb through all the way to the end of the hair. Wipe the debris, nits, and lice onto a tissue and place the tissue in the plastic bag. Continue to comb the section of hair until you no longer see any nits or lice. Then pin this section out of the way with a hair clip or bobby pin. Repeat this process with each small section of hair on your daughter’s head.

When you are done with combing, rinse the hair with water and let it dry. Then check the hair for any stray nits. If you find any, pick them out individually. Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash. Soak the comb and hair clips or pins in rubbing alcohol for 15 minutes (if they are metal, you can instead boil them in water for 15 minutes) and wash the towel. Also, wash sheets, blankets, bedclothes, and clothing your child has come into contact with. Items that can’t be washed (such as stuffed animals, pillows, etc.) should be placed in an airtight plastic bag for two weeks.

Finally, to prevent spread or re-infestation, make sure that all other household members get checked for lice for the next few weeks, and that they get treated if any lice are found. Tell anyone your child has had close contact with—especially your child’s day care providers and the other children who attend—to get checked and, if necessary, treated. The only way to stop the infestation is for all affected people in the environment to be treated.


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