Effective ways to get rid of lice

The CPS recommends using topical insecticides as a first choice for treatment

Mother treating son's hair against lice at home

Kids and lice, unfortunately, seem to go hand in hand. For the first time in eight years, the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS), a national association that promotes the health needs of children and youth, has updated its recommendations about how to get rid of these pesky creatures.

As the first choice for treatment of lice, the CPS recommends topical insecticides, such as pyrethrins and permethrin which includr brand names Nix, Ridx and R&C shampoo. But there are also non-insecticide options. For example, silicone oil dimeticone (sold under the brand name NYDA) and isopropyl myristate/cyclomethicone (sold under the brand name Resultz) are effective but more expensive. Furthermore, the CPS notes that Lindane, a non-prescription drug, is no longer available.

“Once you’ve found live lice in the hair, treat them with an approved topical insecticide, properly applied to the head,” says Dr. Carl Cummings, co-author of the updated statement.

Although there have been reports of increasing resistance of head lice to topical insecticides, these products continue to be effective most of the time. “If after two full applications of permethrin, you still find live lice, consider a different class of insecticide like pyrethrins, or a non-insecticide treatment,” Cummings says.

The CPS does not recommend home remedies such as mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, olive oil, vinegar or margarine. Although these treatments may make it hard for lice to breathe, they probably will not be effective enough to kill them.

Head lice don’t spread disease, are not the result of poor hygiene, and are not a primary health hazard. The CPS recommends children be treated and then attend school or their daycare/preschool the next day. No-nit policies that keep children with lice or nits away from school after treatment are not necessary and do not prevent spreading.

For more information, visit cps.ca.