Head lice infestations are very unpleasant. They are not only annoying and really itchy – preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep – they can also put you at risk of irritation and infection. So, you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. But how long does it take to get rid of head lice?
The head lice treatment process
It takes about 2-3 weeks to completely get rid of head lice. This is because of how resilient they are. It takes more than one session of treatment to eliminate a head lice infestation because most treatments can’t kill all head lice and their eggs in only one go.
Here is the entire head lice treatment process to give you an idea of what happens during these weeks.
- Checking for head lice. You have to check if you really have head lice. Here are the signs of a head lice infestation – live head lice, small white objects in your hair that are actually head lice eggs, itching sensation, and the feeling that there is something crawling in your head.
- Consulting a doctor or buying over-the-counter medications. Once you are sure you have a head lice infestation, you can consult a doctor to know the best treatment for your specific case. But you can also get over-the-counter medications in your local pharmacy.
- Understanding the proper procedures. Make sure you understand what the doctor says, including the medication you should apply and how to apply it properly. If you are going for the over-the-counter route, read the instructions on the labels to understand how and when to apply it.
- Rechecking for head lice and retreatment. Different head lice medications have different properties. For instance, there are medications that are effective in getting rid of head lice eggs and there are those that are not. Whatever medication you use, it’s important to recheck your head for surviving head lice and eggs. Apply the medication again according to the instructions. Usually, it should be applied about a week after the first application. If the medication is not effective against head lice eggs, you may have to wait for the eggs to hatch to effectively get rid of the infestation.
Supplemental measures to get rid of head lice
Getting rid of head lice sounds simple enough – you diagnose the problem, consult a doctor or get over-the-counter medication, and treat again to completely get rid of the infestation. But head lice can be so resilient. It is a good idea to implement more measures to get rid of the pests.
Here are some things you can do for a more effective head lice treatment.
- Check everyone in your household for head lice. Head lice treatment will be futile if some of the head lice have already migrated to another person in your household. When someone in your household has head lice, everyone will always be at risk. Even when only one person has been diagnosed with head lice, it’s important to check everyone on the property.
- Wash the items used by the infested person. There can be head lice on the infested person’s items, including their comb, mattress, and towel. Even though head lice don’t live long without a host, they may live long enough to get into the head of anyone on the property.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture. Head lice may fall on the floor or be left on the furniture the infested person has used. Vacuum these areas and throw the contents of the vacuum bag in a garbage can outside your home to prevent them from returning.
- Avoid head-to-head contact. Don’t bump heads with the infested person. Better yet – don’t bump heads with anyone in your household as long as someone is diagnosed of head lice. This will prevent the further spread of the pests between people.
- Avoid using the personal items of the infested person. The infested person’s personal items may have head lice on them, especially the items that directly touch their head, such as combs, hats, and pillows. Avoid using these items. In fact, you should wash them to prevent them from spreading head lice.
Important head lice facts
To effectively get rid of head lice, you have to understand head lice thoroughly. This will prevent misconceptions and myths from thriving, as they can make the head lice treatment ineffective.
Here are some important head lice facts that may aid you in your head lice treatment journey.
- Direct contact is the most common way of transmission. Head lice can’t fly or jump. They can only crawl. This is why the most common way of transmission is head-to-head contact. You don’t have to completely avoid a person who has head lice. But make sure you don’t bump heads with them.
- Head lice can’t live long without a host. Head lice can only survive for 1-2 days without a host. This is because they need to constantly feed to survive. Even though they are very vulnerable without a host, you shouldn’t be too complacent. 1-2 days is a long enough time to crawl into your head if you are not careful.
- Kids are more likely to get head lice. Children are more likely to get head lice because they don’t care much about personal space. They may bump heads with classmates and friends during classes or playtime. If the infested person is a child, make sure to inform them about personal space. And look carefully at the instructions of medications because some of them can’t be used on really young children.
- Head lice are starting to gain resistance to common over-the-counter medications. Super lice exist. These are just like ordinary head lice. The only difference is that they are harder to kill because they have gained resistance to over-the-counter medication ingredients like permethrin and pyrethrin. If over-the-counter medication doesn’t seem to work, consult a doctor.
It takes a few weeks to get rid of head lice for good
It takes about 2-3 weeks to get rid of a head lice infestation. This is because multiple sessions are necessary to completely eliminate all head lice and their eggs. After the first application of the head lice medication, you usually have to wait a week or so for another application.
Proper treatment is the only thing that is absolutely necessary to get rid of head lice. But it helps to add supplemental measures and understand head lice more for a more effective and safe treatment.