Getting head lice is easy. Getting rid of it can be a challenge. Nix and Rid, two popular over-the- counter treatments, contain one of the insecticides recommended by doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics. But research published by the Journal of Medical Entomology has found that over 98 percent of lice in the U.S. is resistant to the insecticides. Lice have built up resistance to pyrethrum and permethrin, the main ingredients in those products because of genetic mutations.
Getting rid of lice is tricky: You not only have to remove the live bugs but also kill the eggs and nits, something the products don’t always do. The chemicals on the market don’t kill 100 percent of the eggs and they can pose some health risks. Consumer Reports reached out to the makers of Nix and Rid. Nix says its active ingredient is still recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Rid did not respond.
Consumer Reports’ experts say the best method to get rid of lice is to physically remove them and their eggs. Use a lubricant such as a hair conditioner or olive oil and a fine-toothed metal comb to go through the entire head of hair. The space in the metal combs has to be small enough to allow a single hair to go through but not an egg. Part the hair into very small sections and use a paper towel to wipe the small comb in between passings. When finished, wash or rinse the hair. Repeat this every day until no live lice or eggs are found.
To prevent lice from spreading, check everyone at home. Also soak combs and brushes used in very hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. And wash or dry clothing and bed linens at temperatures higher than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat kills stray lice and nits.
Seal anything that isn’t washable in a plastic bag for two weeks, enough time to kill the lice.