How to Kill Lice and Nits

Updated March 17, 2017

Head lice are tiny wingless insects that feed on human blood several times a day. Lice eggs, or nits, are typically found close to the surface of the skin and on the hair shaft. Nits look like yellow, tan or brown dots and are often mistaken for dandruff. Adult and baby lice are no bigger than a sesame seed and greyish-white to tan in colour. Lice are highly contagious and cause skin irritation that includes itching, small red bumps, and sores from scratching. Fortunately, taking actions to kill lice and nits will remedy the infection.

Remove the infected person's clothing. Apply the pediculicide per its instructions. Instruct the person to put on clean clothing.

Comb the lice and nits from the hair using the nit comb. Part the hair and carefully comb the hair from root to tip. Repeat the combing every two to three days.

Reapply the pediculicide within seven to 10 days of the initial treatment. Use the nit comb to remove any lice and nits after applying the medicine and every two to three days thereafter.

Check the person's hair every two to three days for lice and nits. Perform the checks for a two- to three-week period or until all the lice and nits are gone.

Place the infected person's clothing, bed linens, and all other fabrics he touched within the two days before he was diagnosed in a washing machine. Wash the items in very hot water and dry on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Seal all non-washable items in an airtight plastic bag. Leave the items in the bag for two weeks. Alternatively, dry-clean items that are not machine washable. Vacuum the floors and furniture in the house.

Submerge the infected person's combs, brushes, and other hair utensils in rubbing alcohol. Allow the items to soak for an hour.


Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use pediculicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Pediculicide (lice killing medicine)
  • Nit comb
  • Washing powder
  • Airtight plastic bag
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Vacuum
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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Renee Kristi has been writing since 2001 and her work now appears on various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Spelman College and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law.