Posted on: October 12, 2007 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 30

Lice that infest hair and scalp are particularly common among schoolchildren who spread them through direct contact. Nits are the eggs of these lice. Once laid by lice, nits rest dormant on the scalp and take weeks to hatch. That’s why someone with an infestation of lice can be treated and the lice gotten rid of without eliminating the nits; they therefore keep getting re-infested, so treating head lice without first determining if nits are present is a mistake.

The best way to identify the presence of nits is to use a fine toothed comb specially designed for finding them. Take the comb and some thick hair conditioner and find a room with lots of light. Good nit combs are metal and typically cost about $12 (e.g. LiceMeister or Nit Free Terminator comb). Without a good nit comb you will not be able to remove the eggs. Sit the subject down on a firm chair and cover the neck and upper body with a towel to prevent too much mess.

Unlike dandruff, nits do not come away from hair shafts when pulled or shaken; they stick so that the hair comes out with them (For dandruff removal, learn how to treat dandruff). Thoroughly covering the hair with conditioner allows the comb to move more smoothly through the hair while keeping nits from sticking to the hair.

Look for the living adult lice scuttling around; they have pinchers in front. The small, white “crawly” things are the little immature lice. The microscopic things attached to the hair shaft are the eggs. Tiny oval-shaped parasites, nits are easy to spot. As an infection progresses, they move further away from the scalp. They can be found in a range of colors, brown, tan, and cream through yellow. Even if no lice are spotted, you can be certain, having found nits, that the suspect has an infestation of lice.

How to get rid of nits

  1. If a child’s scalp is sore or bleeding, that child should be examined by a physician before proceeding with any treatment.
  2. Assuming the hair is still adequately conditioned, separate and clip it into four sections and start combing, stopping to wipe the lice and eggs on a vinegar-soaked towel every few strokes. The head should be held over a newspaper to catch them. Clean the comb frequently with a tissue or paper towel. Discard the newspaper and tissue/paper towel in a disposable bag and place the bag in the garbage. Continue until all the sections are done. Consider shaving off all the hair and shampooing normally to avoid all of the following steps.
  3. Repeat, wash the comb, and start going through the hair with it again until not a single egg or nit can be seen.
  4. Wash the hair with a shampoo or lotion specially formulated to kill lice and nits. (Nits are tougher to kill than lice.) Lean over the sink/tub/basin, limiting the shampoo to the scalp or neck. Protect the eyes so that the shampoo does not get in them. Should it get into the eyes, wash out thoroughly with fresh water immediately.
  5. Soak the hair with white vinegar and then apply, for 30 to 60 minutes, a damp towel soaked in the same solution.
  6. Comb out the hair again with the fine-toothed nit comb to remove dead lice and nits.
  7. Clothing, hats, stuffed toys, bed linens, towels, etc, should either be discarded or washed thoroughly with soap and very hot water and then soaked in a solution of white vinegar and water. Use the hottest setting on the dryer and dry for the longest time you can without harming the fabric. Items which cannot be washed should be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for at least 10 days. The mattress should be sanitized and bedroom vacuumed thoroughly. Combs, brushes, curlers, and hair ties should be boiled or thrown out. Quarantine clothing in a sealed plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing) for at least two weeks; any remaining lice will die from lack of air.
  8. Wait a day, and then repeat the process, sitting down, putting in the conditioner and combing through the hair. You could be surprised after the last comb-through that the little parasites are back; if they are, however, they should be back in greatly decreased numbers. Again, comb through the hair until not one of louse shows up. Repeat again, and again, and yet again. Usually two weeks will pass until all the lice are gone.
  9. The hair of all family members should be checked and treated if necessary. A daily nit check is advisable for at least 10 days following a treatment. Repeat treatment if it’s necessary.
  10. To prevent future infections, always quarantine anything suspect such as a hat purchased from a thrift store. Seal that stuff in an air tight plastic bag for at least two weeks before letting it into your home. Alternatives are to place the plastic bag in a freezer or outside in the hot sun. Avoid trying on hats at yard sales or thrift stores, or hanging your coat or hat on a hook in a public place that could be contaminated.

How to remove nits naturally

Experts recommend that any treatment of lice and nits include a commercial medicated shampoo designed just for that purpose. Are head lice something you really want to mess around with? If it is, here are some homegrown approaches:

  • Simply wash the hair with diluted vinegar and rinse with water.
  • Douse the hair in olive oil or mayonnaise, which dissolves the exoskeletons of the lice and their nits. Wrap the hair in a plastic bag overnight. You can also try a 50-50 solution of mineral oil and vinegar. Then wash the hair with dish soap instead of regular shampoo to more easily remove the oil and vinegar.
  • In the summer, go outside after applying plenty of conditioner, and use the strongest stream you can get from a garden hose to wash lice and nits out of your hair. Follow up with a nit comb for the stragglers.
  • Blow-dry the hair with very hot air whenever it feels itchy.
  • If you dye or bleach your hair, the ammonia in the process may possibly kill off lice and nits. (For a guide on dyeing you hair, learn how to dye your hair with henna)
  • Some claim that using coconut shampoo helps keep lice away.

If you enjoyed learning this article, you’ll surely enjoy reading how to get rid of head lice.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of nits.

30 People reacted on this

  1. Suave or White Rain Coconut shampoo/conditioner ALL THE WAY!! We use on a regular basis and still after 13 years of the children being in school we have yet to have to deal with it even when some of the closest family members have came around and had it terrible. I am a firm believer of a cheap $1.00 bottle of this shampoo.

  2. Oops,I made a little mistake in my earlier e-mail.When I was speaking of using a “Hot iron”I meant to say a hair straightner iron..sorry!
    I hope no one would use the regular iron!Only on clothes:)))))!

  3. ok i had this before because i am 12 and my mom uses vegetable oil and soaked it it mine and my brothers hair and put a left over wal-mart bag over my head and went to sleep with it on ………….. this will drown and kill the nits ……………. and it will be a lot better than putting coke and coconut shampoo because i went thew this twice and it works


  4. Head lice can only breed (hatch eggs=nits) in a very limited temperature and humidity zone.

    This is the back of the neck up about 2″. Shave this area and no more lice will hatch.

    I finally figured this out by looking at the life-cycle of the head louse, and that was after trying every commercial product I could find and many home remedies.

    It uses no chemicals, costs nothing, and it works.

    Combing for nits will also work, but it must be done frequently for at least 7-10 days in order to eliminate the problem.

  5. If you don’t want head lice or nits -fleas follow steps

  6. if you wash your cloths or fabrics with HOT*** water the lice will die and they will also die if you put your things in a garbage bag and tie it really tight leaving no holes

  7. The only thing I could really think of is to have someone comb through your hair twice a day and pick them out. This does take a while so if you are planning to go to work or school, I’d recommend leaving your hair in a braid until you get rid of them.

  8. Vasiline is horrible to get out of hair, but seems to work the best. I put it on their head and sent them to bed with it on inside a shower cap. Took forever to get the grease out though. I tried this after I tried everything else I read about to try, vinegar, mayo, Listerine.

  9. i had lice before.
    heat kills it.
    blow dry u hair straightin it!!
    also, i had a pretty bad case but i didnt have to use
    mayo,coke,veg oil. anything like that 🙂

    go to walmart or somwhere and get lice rid aid oil.
    it like pure pure oil it suffercates nits and adult lice.
    (when you put it on start at oth ends bc they can hold their breath and make their way to the other side of your head!!!)
    then keep it on though it smells and get a fine comb (comes w the kit) and slowely and litttle sections get someone to come them out!!
    if scalp is bleeding dont use!! contact docter.
    hope i could help (:

  10. ive tried everything the best way to get lice out is to cut ur hair really short i did it and i never found anymore lice after words




  12. flea shampoo leave it to soak for about 10 mins and soak ur hair then go thrugh with a comb it frezzes them so they cant move and u can catch them works brilliantly best ive used for my kids

  13. vaseline works GREAT in killing them..smothering them. what we did was put vaseline in our hair, bagged our hair, put a toque on to keep things put…and slept. by morning i will say it was HARD to get the vaseline out…HARD HARD HARD. omg HARD. but when we did get it out…alas they were all dead! if you have any questions about getting vaseline out of your hair…Im ur girl. lol.
    i will say its hard to put in ur hair and hard to take out.
    we must have washed our hair about 9 times each to get that glue out of our hair, but not one life bug was left. and boy those suckers are small and can get very big…for a lice anyway.
    But if they come back for some reason, if we get re-infested…I will NOT do the vaseline treatment again! I will do the oil treatment…easier to washout and comb through.

  14. I used everything. Mayo,olive oil, even malithion. Malithon is a prescription and not safe. It still did not work. The only thing that worked for my and my daughter was Vinegar. Please just try it. Soak your hair with it and then also soak a towel. Wrap you hair in the towel just like you got out of the shower. Use a shower cap over the towel and sleep in it overnight. This works!!! It is the only thing that worked for us and we had lice for three months. Don’t second guess it just give it a try. My great-grandmother told me to try this. It what her mother used on her when she was a child. If you have to repeat. I did not even have to use the comb. The vinegar kills both the lice and disingrates the eggs. Just be careful not to get the vinegar in the eyes. The smell isn’t the best but I would rather deal with the smell than the bites and frustration. I just wish I would of trusted my grandmother and did this before waistin so much money on all the other products.

  15. The expensive liquids you can buy in the shops to ged rid of lice do not work as well as the vinegar. At first I didn’t think it would work but the vinegar method is really effective and gets rid of lice.

  16. We have tried all these different things NOTHING WORKS these people i know still have the damn things vasiline hard to get out vinegar stinks thats all mayo the dog tried to eat the shower caps tried the rid shampoos no help either still have the NITS going on two weeks oh went to doctor for the drug store brand still got NITS need HELP NOW there is no tips from me because nothing has helped

  17. Put red wine and salad cream in your hair leave it on for 20 minutes then rinse in with shampoo then go in the sun for 2 minutes then they will dissolve but just to get rid of the basice comb your hair with a frim nit comb approxamaitley 20 combs.

  18. I need help i cant get rid of the lice or nits:( they keep coming back andi dont know from where and i keep washing everything wat should i do and where can i find a good comb???

  19. My daughter was sent home from school time and time again. we tried mayo, baby oil, vingar, and the lice and nit shampoo..none worked…one of her teachers put some Kerr Lotion on her head and the nits washed right out! now i keep Body & Soul Mineral Oil in her hair. Its cheap too, I buy it at Dollar Tree for a dollar. I use it daily, she never had the bugs just the nits!

  20. My daughters are like magnets to lice. i’ve had this problem for years. after trying store bought shampoos and home remedies, i discovered the ONE thing that worked!! it’s called Hedrin Once (i got the spray gel). the catch it that i bought it on a trip to England, so i don’t know if it can be bought in the US. search online, and if you can order it, do so! you won’t regret it, it’s the best product out there for this problem!! it not only kills lice but helps remove nits too. i was so happy to have found this product!!Anyway, the ingredients are dimeticone, dodecatrien, trimethyl, peg/ppg dimeticone co-polymer, silica silylate. look for products with those ingredients!

  21. I tried everything from store bought shampoos to home remedies nad nothing seemed to work on my daughters’ hair. On a trip to England I discovered a product called Hedrin Once (I got the spray gel) and it was like a miracle! Search to see if you can buy it online and you will not regret it! Also, but shampoos with Kukui, a hawaiian nut; it makes lice jump out of the hair! DO NOT use hair coloring products as those won’t work, that’s just a myth! Also, wash all bed sheets in hot water with a little bit of bleach (not enough to damage the colors). Vacuum the mattress thoroughly. Look for nits in the hair every 5 days. I know it’s a pain to do all this, but you want to end this problem, don’t you?!

  22. I reasently had lice this past comming sunday,im a seventh grader and my step mother has always used mayo. just plain mayo. so when we tried that it worked on me but i still cant get rid of the eggs!!!! i need help. my step mother and i have been pulling them out of my head for three {3} days now, dose anybody know how to get rid of eggs besides just combing and pulling them out of the hair?

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