How to kill head lice in 10 steps

A recent outbreak of lice in Nova Scotia has raised a head-scratching question: how to you get rid of the horrid beasts?
Head lice love to travel via hats, combs and other head gear. (iStock)

A recent outbreak of lice in Nova Scotia has raised a head-scratching question: how do you get rid of the horrid beasts?

Head lice are small insects that lay eggs on your head. The eggs are called nits. It's common among children and not a sign of uncleanliness. It spreads via head-to-head contact, or through hats, combs, helmets and other transferable head gear.

Despair not: Nova Scotia's Public Health Services prepared a nit hit list to eliminate the critters. 

1. Comb hair with a regular comb to remove tangles.

2. Apply the treatment (which should contain permethrin, or pyrethrins with piperonyl butoxide) as follows: 

  • Shake the bottle.
  • Apply the treatment to dry hair, even if the product directions says, "towel dried hair." This will make sure the product is not watered down. 
  • Put the lice treatment all over the scalp and rub in well.
  • Be sure that the treatment covers all of the hair, from the scalp to the ends.
  • Leave the treatment on the hair for as long as the package recommends.  

3. Rinse out the treatment over the sink. Don't rinse in a bathtub where the product could get onto other parts of the body. Dry the hair with a clean towel. 

4. Comb the hair again with a regular comb to remove tangles.

5. Comb for lice with a lice comb.

6. Continue daily lice combing every day between the first and second treatment.Do not skip this step!

7. Use the lice treatment a second time, nine to 10 days after the first treatment. Use the same product, and follow the same steps you used for the first treatment. The first treatment kills the live lice and the second treatment kills any lice that have hatched since the first treatment was done. No product currently available will kill all of the nits. 

8. Continue checking household members at least once a week for three weeks after the second treatment is done to make sure everyone is free of live lice. 

9. If you find live lice after the second treatment has been done, then repeat steps 1 to 8 using a different product (with a different ingredient) to kill the lice. 

10. If you continue to find live head lice after following these steps, contact Public Health Services.