The Differences Between Lice & Flea Treatment

Written by nicole dyles
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The Differences Between Lice & Flea Treatment
A flea/lice comb is used to remove lice from human or animal hair. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

When we think of waging wars, we often think of large scale attacks on large scale enemies. However, when it comes to finding treatment options for lice and fleas, the fight against those tiny insects requires significant effort and time, as well.

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What Are Lice?

Lice are tiny, wingless insects that live on the body. They are approximately the size of a sesame seed. Lice are commonly found in the scalp or head, but may also live in pubic hair. Lice live on host animals to receive nutrients from the host's blood supply.

Lice are usually easy to find on the head. The infected person will have red bumps and small, white flakes on his neck, shoulders, ears and scalp. The white flakes are actually the eggs of the lice living on the scalp and in the hair. An infestation of lice causes intense itching in the infected area.

The Differences Between Lice & Flea Treatment
Parents should check their children for lice often. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

How Are Lice Treated?

The most common way to treat and cure a lice infestation is by using over-the-counter (OTC) shampoo from a drugstore. Some of the most popular brands of lice shampoo are Rid, Nix, Zippity Doo and Licenex.

If lice are persistent or recurring, a doctor may recommend prescription medication to treat lice. Prescription medications include Malathion (topically applied to the hair and rubbed into the scalp), benzyl alcohol lotion (topically applied to the scalp and hair) and Lindane (a prescription strength shampoo).

As with any health problem, there are natural remedies to treat lice as well. Some common natural treatments for lice are Cetaphil (face wash), mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and coconut oil.

For each remedy above, the liquid is applied to the infected area and allowed to dry and harden. The treatment kills the lice and then is washed away with hot or warm water. Any remaining eggs should be removed manually by combing with a lice comb. Lice combs can be purchased at retailers that sell pet and personal care products.

What Are Fleas?

Similar to lice, fleas are also wingless insects that attach to humans or animals. Fleas look like small, black specks. Fleas suck the blood of the host animal or human to receive the nutrients from blood. Fleas are commonly found on dogs, cats, humans and birds. Fleas are incredibly dangerous to humans because they can carry and transmit diseases from animals (such as rats and birds) to humans.

The Differences Between Lice & Flea Treatment
There are several different species of fleas. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Treating Fleas on Humans

Flea treatment depends on the host animal. Human treatment differs from treatment remedies for cats, dogs, and birds.

Fleas will bite humans, causing itching, soreness and skin irritation. Fleas are sometimes found living in the hair of humans. To cure an infestation, wash hair in warm water and use a specially formulated shampoo to kill the fleas and eggs. Wash your clothes in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. Heat will kill the fleas and their eggs.

Treating Fleas on Animals

To kill fleas on animals, bathe the animal with a specially formulated shampoo. Some of the most popular flea treatment shampoos are Hartz, Natural Chemistry, Sentry and Sergeant's. Killing all the fleas may take more than one bathing. During bathing, wear gloves to protect your hands and forearms. Brightly or lightly coloured gloves allow you to easily see any fleas that jump from the animal onto the gloves. If fleas jump onto your skin, wash them off in the bath water. Check your skin and clothes for fleas before leaving the secluded bathing area to prevent spreading fleas to other parts of your home.

Submerge the animal in water to make sure the shampoo and water reach all parts of the body. Vigorously scrub the animal's fur, making sure to rub the skin. Allow the shampoo to remain on the animal for the time recommended by the manufacturer. When you rinse the animal, you will see dead fleas float to the top of the water.

Next, use a flea comb to brush the fur. The fine teeth of the flea comb will remove any remaining fleas. Place the animal on top of a white towel or white paper before combing so any remaining fleas are visible. Repeat the bathing process if necessary.

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