Campus News

Use ‘elbow grease’ on head lice

Drop the chemicals and grab the metal comb: A little elbow grease is the best way to get rid of head lice, according Paul Guillebeau, insect pest management/pesticide coordinator with the UGA Cooperative Extension.

Whether a child picks up head lice from school, a friend or a family member, the key to controlling and eliminating the pest’s population is with a metal comb and consistent brushing. Chemicals are available, but some head lice populations have built up resistance to ingredients—like permethrin and pyrethrin—commonly found in head lice shampoo.

“The best organic method by far is combing head lice out with a lice comb,” said Guillebeau. “Depending on how long and curly your child’s hair is, getting rid of lice can be easy but time consuming.”

Guillebeau’s daughter had head lice while she was in elementary school. He and his wife got rid of the lice by combing her hair every day for several days. They also used mousses and baby oil to help find the nits (the egg stage of head lice) in her hair.

Head lice are highly adapted to one host: the human body. Once they fall or are swept off a person, they only have a few hours to live unless they find another person’s head to call home. The pests are most commonly seen in pre-kindergarten and elementary-aged children. Outbreaks tend to die out once students reach middle and high school age. Head lice are very rarely seen on adults.