Lice control is all about removing from their habitats.
There are three species of lice that attach themselves to humans, each with their own preferred habitat:
- Head lice (scalp and head hair)
- Crabs (the hair around the genitals)
- Body lice (host's clothing)
Therefore, in order to fight lice effectively, you need to find out which species of lice you are infested with. In Western countries, head lice are the most commonly found lice species. When children get lice in Denmark, for example, it is almost always head lice.
See also our article on lice treatment for additional information.
Lice control in practice
Head lice can only survive for up to 24 hours when not on their hosts. Therefore, re-infestation and environmental transmission is not a real problem. Thus, head lice control should:
- Examine: You should check everyone in the household for lice.
- Underret: If you have children, you should notify the school, daycare center and other parents about the presence of lice. Read more about lice treatment here.
- Treatment: All people who have lice must be treated.
- Control: All persons who have undergone a lice treatment should be checked in the following days for the presence of lice.
- Repeat the treatment: After 7 days, repeat the treatment (7 days is just a starting point; always follow the instructions that come with your chosen lice product).
- ControlIn the following weeks, all treated individuals should continue to be checked for lice. If the treatment has not worked, try a different lice repellent or consult a doctor.
Crabs are controlled with prescription lice repellent. This means that you should see a doctor if you have crabs.
Always remember to follow the treatment instructions carefully. Questions can be asked to your doctor or the pharmacy where you buy the lice treatment.
Body lice live in the hosts' clothing, where they typically live in seams, folds, etc. Control is all about general hygiene; i.e. washing your clothes, showering daily and changing your clothes every day (and only change into clean clothes!).
- Combat: Fight lice by washing all textiles in your home. This includes clothing, bedding, carpets, etc. Textiles that cannot be washed, frozen or stored until the lice and their eggs are dead;
- WashingMachine wash all washable clothing and bedding that the lice-infected person has been in contact with in the two days prior to the lice treatment. This is done to kill all lice and eggs. Wash everything at a minimum of 55°C for 20 minutes. As an alternative to washing, clothes can be frozen or stored as described in the next section.
- Freezing/storageAll clothes that cannot be washed should either be frozen or stored in sealed plastic bags. Freezing should be done for at least 2 days, while storage should be for at least 2 weeks (body lice cannot survive for more than 7 days without food - even if they are newly hatched).
- Cleaning & MaintenanceClean your home thoroughly - especially by vacuuming. All textiles should be changed regularly until the lice disappear.
If you live very close together, you should also try to find a solution to create more space (body lice tend to thrive better when more people live close together).
The following are not necessary for lice control:
- DisinfectionDisinfection is only necessary when fighting bacteria and other microorganisms, which does not include insects such as lice.
- Insecticides: Use of insecticides etc. as they are not very effective against lice and can be harmful to your health.
You should also not use old household remedies such as rubbing alcohol, vinegar, oil, etc. to control lice (either on the body or in the home).