ZocdocAnswersWhat should I do if I think I have lice?

Question

What should I do if I think I have lice?

I used some shampoo I bought at the store, but my head still itches. I think I have lice, but the itching won?t go away. Is there something else I should do?

Answer

If you are not sure that you have head lice, a family doctor can help diagnose it. For effective elimination of head lice, I would suggest some over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. The OTC shampoos and lotions that contain pyrethrin or permethrine are commonly used. Pyrethrins, often combined with piperonyl butoxide (brand name: RID, A-200, Pronto, R & C, Triplex), only kill crawling lice, not unhatched nits. Permethrine (brand name: Nix) is of similar nature. It is good idea to use a special comb (one brand name: LiceMeister comb) to remove nits, dead and remaining live lice out of the hair. The medication sometimes takes longer to have the effect. Shampoos and lotions that kill lice contain pesticides and other chemicals, so I advise you consult your doctor before using these products, especially if you have other medical conditions such as asthma or allergies. Should these OTC products be ineffective, a doctor can prescribe a cream, lotion or shampoo. Lindane shampoo and Malathion (Ovide) are such common prescription drugs to treat head lice. If the problem still persists, it may not be head lice at all. There are other causes for itching of the scalp. For instance, when you have got rid of the lice, you might still itch for two or three weeks, it doesn't mean you still have lice. Using lotion over and over again can cause dermatitis, which itself makes the head itch. Please see a family physician for a consultation and treatment.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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