Professional Head-Lice Removal

Updated February 21, 2017

Head lice are small, dark grey, wingless insects about 1/8 inch long that are found on the human scalp. Upon close inspection they can be seen crawling in the hair or anchored on the scalp Their yellow-to-white-coloured eggs are called nits. They are attached firmly to the hair and very difficult to remove; the eggs take a week to hatch. Lice can be extremely hard to get rid off and many frustrated families employ the services of professional lice removers to take care of the problem.

Primary Group Affected by Lice

Head lice primarily affect preschool- and elementary school-age children and are occasionally also found in adolescents. They are more frequent in girls and Caucasian children with straight hair and are very rare in African-American children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, head lice cause nearly 6 to12 million infestations every year.

Common Methods of Lice Removal

The usual method of removing head lice is to use over-the-counter remedies that are designed to kill the insects. Professional head-lice removal means obtaining the services of experienced individuals who can come to your house and help your family deal with the issue. There are many ways professional lice removers can help. For instance, Mary Ward is a professional lice remover who has also been featured in "National Geographic" magazine. She gives a lot of tips gained through her years of experience.

Wrong Approach

Many times Ward has found that families start a chemical treatment for lice when in reality the insects are not really lice. Hence, the chemicals are being used in vain. She also says that chemicals do not work very well with lice and her advice is that, if chemicals do not work very well the very first time, they probably won't be effective the second or third time either and another method should be tried.

Smothering Technique

In Ward's experience, there are no chemicals or prescription medicines that are both safe and reliable for eradicating head lice. Her recommendation is to try the "smothering technique" with olive oil since it is the safest and most nonallergenic method. Hence, it can be used over and over again with no side effects.

Many of Ward's clients do not initially wish to try the smothering technique, but when the problem persists they are willing to try it. The process involves combing the hair very thoroughly with a nit comb, covering the scalp completely with olive oil and leaving it on for six or eight hours. The olive oil will mostly slow down the lice, and it is important to comb them out at this stage. After the oil is washed out, the lice become active again and the process has to be repeated until all the lice are gone.

There should be at least ten nit-free days before the infestation can be considered eliminated. However, there are cases in which the nits start appearing again, and the olive-oil treatment needs to be restarted. But for fewer nits it takes less time to clear the infestation.

It is important that the whole family start the oil treatment on the same day so that they are all at the same stage of lice removal. Since lice can be passed from one person to the other fairly quickly, it doesn't help if the treatment is done on one person at a time.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.