Skin Home > Lice Treatment

Nit picking, medication, and washing the infested person's clothes in hot water are a few of the options for treating lice. The treatment that is most effective will vary depending on whether the infested person has head lice, body lice, or pubic lice. For example, pubic lice is generally treated with medication, while body lice is typically treated by giving the infested person a clean change of clothes and a shower, as well as laundering or throwing away all worn clothing and bedding.

An Overview of Lice Treatment

There are three types of lice that infest humans:
  • Pediculus humanus capitis (head lice)
  • Pediculus humanus corporis (body lice)
  • Phthirus pubis (pubic lice or crab lice; also called crabs).
Treatment for lice will vary based on the type of lice a person is diagnosed with.

Treating Head Lice

The first thing to know about getting rid of head lice is that there are many options. The second thing to know is that there are no guarantees that these lice treatments will be 100 percent effective. In addition, data from clinical trials are not available for all treatment options.
To treat head lice, you must do two things: kill the live lice on the head, and remove all the nits (head lice eggs) from the hair. This involves three necessary steps:
Treating head lice is a long process that can take up to 21 days. It is not necessary for a child to miss school once head lice treatment begins.
(Click How to Get Rid of Head Lice to learn more about the proper way to nit pick, along with how to treat the house. You can also learn about alternative treatment for head lice by clicking on Home Remedy for Head Lice. This includes a discussion on some common home remedies such as tea tree oil, mayonnaise, and olive oil.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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