How to get rid of head lice completely

Updated November 21, 2016

Getting rid of head lice not only includes treating the lice on the head, but items that have come in contact with the infected head as well. Doctors recommend an over-the-counter medicated shampoo, cream rinse or lotion to kill the lice directly on the head. Since head lice are transmitted through head- to-head contact, bed linens, clothing and other items will need to be treated to prevent infestation.

Purchase an over-the-counter medicated shampoo, cream rinse or lotion to completely get rid of head lice. If you don't know which product to use to treat the problem, contact a doctor for advice. Follow the directions on the package exactly. Using the medication too frequently or applying too much medication could cause injury. Use only one head lice medication at a time.

Comb out the lice and nits with a fine-tooth comb after the medicated treatment.

Submerse combs and brushes used by the person with lice in rubbing alcohol for one hour. The rubbing alcohol will kill the lice and prevent the spread of the infestation to others.

Disinfect headgear, such as helmets or hats, with rubbing alcohol. Disinfecting the headgear will prevent the spread and recurrence of lice.

Wash bed linens and clothing used or worn by the infested person in hot water. recommends using hot water at 54.4 degrees Celsius or 54.4 degrees Celsius and following the wash cycle by drying in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.

Place items that cannot be washed, such as stuffed animals, in air tight plastic bags for two weeks.

Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture in the house and car. Throw away the waste in the vacuum cleaner immediately.

Repeat treatment cycle in 7 to 10 days, if needed, to kill any newly hatched lice.


A visit to a doctor for prescription head lice medication may be needed if a second round of treatment has not killed the head lice completely in two weeks or the scalp looks infected. Children under 2 years old with head lice should see a physician for treatment options.

Things You'll Need

  • Over-the-counter medicated shampoo, cream rinse or lotion
  • Fine-tooth comb
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Laundry soap
  • Washing machine
  • Plastic bag with tight seal
  • Vacuum
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