How To Keep Lice From Spreading

So your child had lice and you were able to treat it—congrats! (And whew.) To make sure the lice don't come back, here's what you need to do.   

keep lice from coming back

Once you've treated your child to eliminate lice, here's what you should do to prevent the spread of lice throughout your house:

1. Treat Hair Tools: Collect her brushes and combs and soak in hot water—at least 130°F—for 10 minutes.

2. Treat Bedding and Clothes: Wash her bedding, dirty clothes, towels, hats—anything that could have touched her head within two days before treatment. Dry on high heat.

3. Treat Toys: Survey her stuffed animals. If she has had contact with any in 48 hours, dry on high heat for a half hour.

4. Treat Non-Washable Items: Seal hair doodads, bike helmets and other non-washable items in a plastic bag for two weeks. Lice can’t survive long without human contact.

5. Treat the House: Vacuum the entire house. Any sofa she sat on, any carpet she padded on, even the bathroom floor—they could be harboring lice. 

Noticed the lice are back on your child's head after about a week? The OTC shampoos kill only adult lice, not their eggs, so the lice you see probably hatched after the treatment. There’s no product that can kill all lice on the first try— which is why doctors often recommend a second treatment seven days later. If you still see lice after that, see your doctor for a stronger Rx treatment, like malathion lotion, which kills both lice and nits.