Lice are quite common in the United States, especially amongst children between the ages of 3 and 11. In spite of this, most people don’t know much about these nasty little parasites. If you’re one such person, you may have fallen victim to a number of myths, misconceptions, and treatment remedies that accompany a lice infestation.
If you or someone you know has lice, or even if you haven’t ever dealt with lice before, it’s a good idea to be prepared. According to the CDC, there is an estimated 10 to 12 million lice infestations each year in the United States, with most of these infestations targeting school-aged youngsters.
With numbers like that, it’s a good idea to have a lice comb on hand and educate yourself and your loved ones on the porper lice prevention and treatment methods.
What Are Lice?
Lice are wingless parasitic insects. Head lice in particular are the most common form of lice to infest people.
Lice are parasitic insects that are very common throughout the entire world. In fact, it’s believed lice have been evolving with human beings since the beginning of our existence. Evidence of lice infestations have even been found on the heads of ancient Egyptian mummies.
While lice are quite common, there are around 5,000 different species of lice throughout the world. Luckily, only three species out of that 5,000 rely on hosts like humans, other warm-blooded mammals, and birds to survive.
These three species of lice include the following:
- Head Lice
- Pubic Lice
- Body Lice
The most common lice to infest human heads is head lice. Head lice generally target children, who are often congregated in classrooms and are often engaging in close physical contact during play. Of course, head lice can also infest adults as well.
Though greatly feared, head lice actually do not carry any diseases and their bites are usually painless. In fact, many people don’t even experience the itching commonly associated with an infestation of head lice.
It should also be noted that head lice are wingless and do not jump. The only way to contract head lice from an infested person is to have head-to-head contact with that person, wear clothing (like a hat or bow) the person was wearing, and so on.
Simply being around someone with head lice does not mean you will catch it. So breathe easy.
Also known as crabs, pubic lice is another form of lice commonly known to infest humans. Adults are the most common victim of pubic lice, though pubic lice isn’t solely focused on the nether regions.
Evolved specifically to cling to coarser hair, pubic lice can also target eyelashes, beards, and eyebrows. Though pubic lice are generally harmless to your health, they can cause serious itching.
Unlike head lice and pubic lice, body lice can and does spread serious infectious diseases through feces. These diseases include trench fever, louse-borne relapsing fever, and typhus.
In fact, during World War 1, thousands of soldiers huddling in trenches together contracted body lice, which led to them contracting typhus and sadly dying.
These days, contracting body lice is incredibly rare. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Infestations of body lice can occur in settings where masses of people are congregated together for long periods of time.
Signs Of Lice – When To Use A Lice Comb
One of the most common signs of lice is incessant itching, though not everyone infested will experience this symptom.
When it comes to using a lice comb, most people are going to need a comb for head lice. That said, a lice comb also works for pubic lice.
Lice can be difficult to get rid of because they don’t just hang out on the scalp. They actually cling to hair follicles and even cement their eggs to the hair shaft so these eggs do not move.
Head lice is commonly mistaken for other skin and scalp issues like dandruff, sand, a buildup of hair product, and even small insects in the hair like ants. The best way to know for sure if you have lice is to visit a trusted professional.
You can also check off some of the common signs of a lice infestation below:
- Incessant Itching
- Tickling or Crawling Feeling In The Scalp or Pubic Areas
- Finding Lice Eggs (AKA Nits) On the Hair SHafts
- Sores Near the Infested Zone
- Small Bite Marks
Not everyone infested with lice will experience all of the symptoms associated with lice listed above. In fact, it’s estimated that only half of those who are suffering from head lice will experience the incessant itching we commonly associate with the parasite.
If you are concerned you have lice but are not sure, it’s a good idea to visit a professional. Remember, while the most common types of lice are generally harmless to your health, lice can still be uncomfortable and even embarrassing.
The below video goes over more common signs of lice to look out for.
We should also note that just because someone in your household is infested with lice does not mean you will get infested too. Remember, lice are wingless parasitic insects who do not jump.
Also keep in mind that lice is much more common than most of us realize. A lice infestation has nothing to do with a person’s personal hygiene, health, or environment. Anyone can contract lice, so don’t be ashamed if you or someone you love comes down with lice.
Luckily, head and pubic lice are not dangerous and there are products and methods you can use to remedy the infestation quickly and efficiently, with a lice comb being one of the most important tools to use when getting rid of these insects.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at using a lice comb.
What Is A Lice Comb And How Does It Work?
A quality lice comb is made with long metal teeth that are set close together.
A lice comb is a specialized comb that is designed specifically to remove lice from the hair shaft. The best lice comb is going to be a high-quality comb with long metal teeth that are placed close to one another.
A lice comb works for the most common forms of lice listed above, and is an essential tool needed for the removal of lice and their eggs and nymphs.
Lice removal is a process, which requires washing your hair with a special medicated shampoo and conditioner, and combing through your hair with a special lice comb.
Before removing lice with a lice comb, it’s important to ensure that all the lice and nits in the hair are dead. This can be done by ensuring you use either home remedies to kill the lice (listed below) or by using a medicated shampoo and conditioner.
Luckily, lice are very fragile. Unlike other parasites like bed bugs, who can live for weeks and sometimes months without a blood meal, lice cannot survive for long without a host. They also require an ideal environment in order to thrive. Hot water, a hair dryer, and medicated shampoos, conditioners, and even some essential oils can kill lice and nits.
Once the lice has been killed, you can go about using a lice comb to remove the dead lice and their eggs.
What Is The Best Lice Comb To Have On Hand?
The best lice comb should be made of stainless steel. Experts suggest avoiding plastic combs.
There are different types of lice combs that are plastic or made of other material, but most experts agree that the best lice comb is going to be metal.
The best lice comb is also going to be purchased separately at a pharmacy or online. Excerpts recommend avoiding using the combs that come in lice removing kits and instead focus on a quality lice comb recommended by a doctor or professional expert.
If you’re not sure which type of lice comb would be right for you, we have listed some of the best products available online below.
Take a look.
Hair Genies Terminator Lice Comb
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First on our list of best lice comb products is a comb sold exclusively for lice removal and prevention. This comb, made by the Hair Genies, comes with all the qualities a good lice comb should have. It is made with long metal teeth and quality stainless steel, meaning it is rust resistant and corrosion resistant.
For this reason, this lice comb can also be sterilized and reused, so you only need to have one on hand for the whole family. This comb removes adult lice, nits and larvae, and will not break in wet hair.
It is also gentle on the scalp with grooved teeth designed not only to easily comb through hair but also get every nit.
MEDca Lice Combs Three Pack
Depending on the size of your family, you might consider investing in a few lice combs. The above lice combs are ideal for lice and nit removal as they include the long, metal teeth required to properly remove lice, nits and larvae.
The order contains three individually packaged lice combs that are different colors, so you can assign different combs to different family members. These combs are also able to be sanitized and reused in the future if needed.
Like all good lice combs on this list, the above combs are made with quality stainless steel that is rust and corrosion resistant and will not break in wet hair.
LiceMeister Head Lice Comb
LiceMeister is another lice comb we recommend for head lice and pubic lice removal. This comb is again designed to remove adult lice, nits and larvae. It is even approved by the National Pediculosis Association, and allows for chemical-free lice removal.
This comb is ideal for young children as it is gentle on the child’s scalp while being effective against these pests. To sanitize the lice comb, you can simply boil it. Though the top is made of a tough plastic, it will still maintain its integrity upon sterilization.
Nix Premium 2-Sided Metal Lice Comb
Nix is a popular lice removal and treatment brand that has been around for quite a while, so we really trust this lice comb provided by them. The comb is designed to remove dead lice and nits from the scalp and includes double-sided teeth.
On one side the metal teeth are fine and placed closely together. On the other side, the metal teeth are wider and placed farther apart. This is ideal for sectioning hair and helping to detangle, while the finer metal teeth remove the nits, larevea, and dead adult lice.
Unlike many other types of combs, this lice comb includes a longer handle, making it more of a “hands-free” option of getting rid of lice and nits. Make sure you follow the directions for sanitizing this type of comb for reuse, as the handle is made from plastic and boiling may not be the best option.
Wild Tribe Reusable Lice Comb
If you’re looking for a lice comb to have on hand, then it’s best to look for a lice comb that is reusable. The above lice comb by Wild Tribe is designed to be sterilized and reused as often as needed, and comes in a two pack for family use.
This comb can be used by both adults and children, and it is made of durable stainless steel. This quality lice comb is also designed to be sturdy, so it doesn’t break easily in wet hair. The comb also has micro-grooved teeth so it collects and traps dead lice and nits for easier removal.
Nix Electronic Lice Comb
If you’re more of a tech savvy person, you’ll enjoy the Nix Electronic Lice Comb. Again made by one of our favorite brands, the electronic lice comb includes an LED spotlight to help you detect and collect lice and nits as you go.
And while it’s best to try and kill all head lice before using a lice comb to remove the parasites, it’s not uncommon for some lice to survive. If they do, this electronic lice comb will get them. It emits a small electrical charge that is harmless to people but kills the lice, their eggs and larvae.
The comb is safe to use on children two years and older and can be reused so long as it is properly sanitized.
Other Products To Have On Hand For Lice Removal and Prevention
Certain shampoos and even essential oils can help repel and prevent lice.
Along with having a quality lice comb on hand, you might also consider having a lice kit or medicated shampoo on hand. This is especially important if you have school aged children or even if you’ve had a child come down with lice is the past.
Simply having products on hand like a lice comb and special shampoos, conditioners, and lice removal kits will help you feel prepared should a lice infestation hit again.
Some of our favorite lice removal and prevention products are listed below.
Fairy Tales Rosemary Lice Repellent Conditioning Spray
Having a spray on hand along with a lice comb can help give you peace of mind, especially if you are the parent of young children. The above spray by Fairy Tales uses essential oils like rosemary oil, citronella oil, tea tree oil, and geranium oil to repel lice while also conditioning your child’s hair.
While you can also use this spray on adult heads, it is formulated for young children with sensitive skin and hair. This means it is free of parabens and sulfates, and can also be used along with a lice comb during lice removal.
Lice Goodbye Survival Kit
While we do mention above to forgo a lice comb that comes in a kit, the lice comb included in the Fairy Tales kit above is an exception. It is an all metal comb that includes long teeth, just like the ones we recommended above that are sold separately.
The above kit is ideal to have on hand and will allow you to quickly care for a family member if they contract lice. The kit includes a treatment mousse to kill the lice, a lice comb to remove nits, larvae and dead adult lice, and the Fairy Tales conditioning spray we listed above.
Honeydew Head Lice Prevention Shampoo
Another shampoo we like for lice prevention in adults is the Honeydew Head Lice Prevention Shampoo. This shampoo uses essential oils including tea tree oil and rosemary oil to repel and prevent lice.
You can use this shampoo along with a lice comb to remove current lice infestations, and continue using the lice prevention shampoo to repel future lice.
Along with lice removal, this shampoo also helps alleviate itchy scalps and reduce dandruff. It is made with all natural ingredients and is free of chemicals that can cause scalp irritation. The shampoo also reduces frizz, so it’s a win-win!
Home Remedies To Use Along With Using The Best Lice Comb
Olive oil and almond oil are commonly used to kill lice before using a lice comb.
Along with being prepared for a potential lice infestation by having a lice comb and lice removal products on hand, you can also take action to prevent lice. In fact, there are a number of household ingredients you likely already have on hand that can repel lice.
Like many pests, lice are repelled by a number of essential oils. The strong smell of certain essential oils is enough to keep them at bay and keep your loved ones safe from these annoying parasitic insects.
The best essential oils to have on hand along with a lice comb include:
- Peppermint Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Neem Oil
- Clove Oil
- Aniseed Oil
- Thyme Oil
- Citronella OIl
- Lavender Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- And Nutmeg Oil
You can even make a lice repellent shampoo using essential oils and home ingredients to kill and prevent lice by following the below recipe.
- 2 ounces of olive oil
- 15 – 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice above
Mix the above ingredients and then apply the concoction to your head using either your hands or cotton balls. Place a showercap on your head and leave the product on for 12 hours or more. This is usually best done a few hours before bed time.
When you wake, take your lice comb and brush through the hair thoroughly before rinsing the concoction out of your scalp with hot water. Repeat as needed.
Smother The Lice With Almond Oil or Olive Oil
If you’re hesitant about using chemical or medicated products for lice removal, you can always try using olive oil or almond oil. Both products above can smother and kill lice and nits when used properly.
Saturate the head with olive oil or almond oil and cover the head with a showercap. Leave the solution on the head for several hours before taking the shower cap off and parting the hair into sections.
Use your lice comb then to carefully comb through the hair and remove dead lice and nits. Again, repeat this process as necessary.
Wet Comb The Hair With Diluted Conditioner
If you’re strapped for cash, you can always try using your own conditioner. Even then, however, using a quality lice comb is essential to removing the lice and nits. We should also note that you should not use conditioner and medicated lice shampoos at the same time, as this will be counterproductive.
For this process, use a spray bottle filled with water and diluted conditioner. You can also use a liquid conditioner. Wet your hair completely with water first, then part it into sections. Use your lice comb and comb through the hair carefully to remove lice, nits and larvae.
Other Tips On Removing and Preventing Lice
Remember, while lice is never pleasant, it is very common and rarely dangerous. It may take a few treatments and a good long process to remove the lice, but it can be done using quality products like medicated shampoos, home remedies, and of course a good lice comb.
Along with understanding lice and knowing how to get rid of lice using a quality lice comb and treatment method, it’s also important to know the different ways you can protect yourselves and loved ones from dealing with these parasites in the future.
Avoid Head To Head Contact With Anyone You Know To Be Infested With Lice
Since lice can’t fly or jump, the most common way to contract a head lice infestation is through physical head to head contact. Certainly avoid head to head contact with those you know to be infested, and try to teach young children to avoid head to head contact as much as possible in general.
Refrain From Sharing Hair Brushes, Clothing, or Hats With People Infested With Lice
Although it is rare that head lice can be transmitted through bedding, clothing or belongings, it is possible. This is usually caused by loose hair that has fallen off or gotten stuck in clothing, brushes, or hats with unhatched eggs or lice on them.
Since transmission of head lice can happen from sharing belongings, it’s best to avoid sharing clothing, brushes, hats, and other items with people you know to be infested with lice.
Wash and Dry Belongings After Coming Into Contact With Someone You know To Be Infested With Lice
Hot water and dry heat can kill lice and their eggs, so if you or someone you know is infested with lice, make sure to wash and dry all belongings you or they came into contact with on high heat.
This includes bedding, clothing, furniture coverings, etc.
Thoroughly Clean Furniture, Bedding, and Other Areas Where Infested People Slept or Sat
Keeping up with routine home maintenance and cleaning is always a great habit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will prevent lice. That said, cleaning thoroughly after you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a lice infestation is a great way to prevent lice from spreading to other family members.
Once you know someone in your household contracted lice, make sure you immediately treat that person using medicated shampoos or home remedies and your lice comb. During this time, you should also clean and wash all that person’s bedding, belongings, clothing, etc to prevent a secondary infestation.
And that’s all.
We hope you now have a good idea of how to handle a lice infestation using quality products and the best lice comb.
Best of luck and thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.