How To Get Rid Of Nits In 4 Simple Steps, Head Lice Center

How To Get Rid Of Nits In 4 Simple Steps

Nits are the eggs laid by the adult female lice. They can be hard to get rid of because they stick to the hair shaft tightly and are quite difficult to comb out.

Knowing how to get rid of nits is the key to eliminating head lice once and for all, because once the head is free of nits, they can no longer hatch. There are several ways to get rid of lice but as far as nits are concerned, the best method is all natural.

Let’s take a look at the safest method and the 4 steps you need to take to get rid of nits.

Step #1: Getting armed with the right information and the right tools

First, you need to get access to the right information and also get the right tools. You need to know what nits look like and where they are located. Head lice lay nits at the roots of your hair. It is the warmest and moistest place for the nits to mature.

Nits look like little white or yellowish oval eggs. They are glued to the hair shaft with something called chitin. It is like a special glue lice use to make their eggs stick to the hair. This glue is hard to dissolve and live nits are hard to remove from the hair.

You can look at some head lice eggs pictures for more information.

Now, when you know what lice eggs look like and where they are located, let’s move on to choosing the appropriate nit removal tools.

To get rid of nits you need a special lice comb. The best option is to get a steel comb, rather than a plastic one. It does a much better job of combing out nits.

Next, you need some vinegar. You can use apple or white vinegar. You also need a white towel, light (sunlight is the best) and warm water.

Step #2: Applying vinegar to unglue the nits from your hair

Cover the shoulders of your child with a white towel. Wet the entire hair with 6 parts of water plus 3 parts of vinegar. Vinegar dissolves the glue of the nits, so they can easily come off the hair when combed out.

Make sure you wet the entire scalp and hair from the roots down to the tips, so that you can also remove dead nits.

You’ll find more detailed information about removing nits with vinegar here.

Step #3: Combing nits out

And now that you have applied the vinegar, how do you get rid of nits? First, sit your child in the bright light. Now you are ready to comb nits out.

If your kid has long hair, it has to be divided into thin locks. Each lock has to be combed going from the top. When you comb a stroke of hair, you should dip the comb afterwards into warm water with vinegar. This way you can wash off any lice or nits from it.

When a lock is combed several times, you should put it aside from the infested hair. You may fasten it with a clip or braid it in a thin but tight braid. This would make it harder for lice to crawl back to clean hair.

Go through all the head and comb out lice and nits. This may take several hours to do. You need to be patient because this combing process is key to getting rid of nits once and for all. Make sure to entertain your kids during the process.

Step #4: Monitoring the treatment

When the combing is finished, wash the hair and shampoo it well with a regular shampoo.

Wash the lice comb and the towel in hot water. Let your kid change the clothes and wash them, too. Vacuum the floor where the combing was done.

Then, you should make sure to check your kid’s hair for live nits.

Also be sure to repeat the treatment before 7 days after the first treatment, to make sure any live nits that you may not have seen will not hatch and give birth to new lice. It is best to repeat the treatment twice during the week after the first treatment was made.

Even though such way to get rid of nits is time consuming and usually has to be repeated several times, this is the most effective and safest method.

We comb through head lice treatments to help you get rid of nits.

Head lice, nits, creepy crawlies, curse of the playground. whatever you want to call them, head lice are the scourge of parenting life.

From littlies in day care who just love putting their heads together, right through to teens taking selfies (yes, selfies can spread nits, according to at least one expert), head lice are regular visitors in many Australian homes.

Here’s how to get rid of them.

How to treat head lice

No one product is 100% effective at removing head lice, and no product has been proven to ‘repel’ head lice in the first place – despite the claims you’ll see on chemist and supermarket shelves.

But before you fall into a deep, itchy despair there is some good news, especially when it comes to your wallet. The most effective treatment option for mild infestations is also the cheapest: conditioner and a lice comb.

The most effective treatment option is also the cheapest: conditioner and a lice comb

The conditioner stuns the lice for up to 20 minutes and makes it difficult for them to grip the hair or crawl around. You can then mechanically remove them with a nit comb.

You’ll need to repeat this treatment every few days for 10 days to break the lice life cycle. While it isn’t fast, your child’s hair will look soft, glossy and gorgeous after days of deep conditioning.

You’ll need to repeat the conditioner and comb treatment every few days to break the lice life cycle.

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How to get rid of lice using conditioner and a lice comb:

  • Brush your child’s hair while it’s dry to get the tangles out.
  • Grab a bottle of thick, white conditioner and squirt it liberally over the hair.
  • Using the nit comb, work your way through the hair methodically, combing from root to tip. (You can divide hair into sections if it’s particularly long or thick.)
  • Wipe the comb on some paper towel or a tissue after every stroke (you’ll probably see lice and eggs in the conditioner).
  • Comb each section of hair several times, wiping the comb on paper towel after each stroke.
  • Once you’re done, put the paper towel in the bin and wash the comb with detergent and hot water.

You’ll need to repeat this process every few days for 10 days. The first treatment kills live lice, the second kills any young lice that have hatched in the interim.

Which lice comb is best?

Generally your best bet is a comb with metal, cylindrical teeth. But there’s a bevy of options available and you may want to experiment to find the one that’s best for you or your child.

  • Combs with metal, cylindrical teeth are gentle on scalp and hair, and when used with conditioner they remove most lice and most eggs. While more expensive than plastic, they last longer.
  • Combs with plastic teeth are gentle on scalp and hair, and when used with conditioner they remove most lice and some eggs.
  • Combs with flat metal teeth can damage the hair shaft, and when used with conditioner they remove some lice and few eggs.
  • Electronic combs (which kill or stun lice with an electric shock) should only be used on dry hair, and remove most lice, but no eggs. They can’t be used on babies and shouldn’t be used by people with epilepsy, heart disease or a pacemaker.

Terminology – nits vs lice


These are the actual little creepy-crawlies themselves. They can’t fly, so they spread via direct head-to-head contact. Adult lice are 2–4mm long and they’re a light brown colour.


These are the lice eggs. They’re about the size of a pinhead, and can’t be brushed off the hair like dandruff can.

Other treatment options

Check for live lice or nits (the live nits will be ‘cemented’ onto the hair shaft close to the scalp and pop if squeezed) before resorting to insecticidal treatment. If you only have a mild case, the comb and conditioner method is the safest. But if that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll probably need to opt for an insecticidal treatment.

Insecticidal treatments are registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which means they’re evaluated as both effective and (relatively) safe. To make sure the product you choose is registered with the TGA, check for the AUST-R number on the label.

No insecticide will kill 100% of the nits (eggs), so you’ll need to re-apply the treatment seven days later. This kills the lice that hatched from the eggs that weren’t killed the first time around.

Herbal head lice treatments contain various combinations of essential oils and herbal extracts. Most haven’t been clinically tested or independently assessed for effectiveness or safety. If your child is heavily infested, you might want to try an insecticide-based product before going herbal.

Do they work? The short answer is maybe. If you’re having no luck with insecticide treatments, some herbal treatments are worth a try. Many herbal ingredients have been shown to be effective in lab tests or small clinical trials (though not on children’s heads).

Why isn’t the treatment working?

Lice are wily creatures and they’re becoming resistant to conventional insecticides, which is why resistance can vary region by region. The bottom line is: if one product ain’t working, try another.

Other reasons a treatment might fail:

  • You’re not using enough of it to cover the scalp and hair.
  • You’re not repeating the treatment after seven to 10 days. (This kills any nits that have survived the first application.)
  • You’re getting reinfested due to head-to-head contact with another person.

Kids can get reinfested through head-to-head contact.

How to stop head lice from coming back

The risk of transmitting lice by sharing hats, hair brushes or bed linen is low. NSW Health says you don’t need to worry about washing these as head lice quickly dehydrate and die if they leave the head.

There’s no evidence that anything you put on your child’s hair will act as a repellent. Some studies suggest that because head lice are crawling insects that can’t jump or fly, once they’re on your child’s head they can’t ‘choose’ to leave, even if they want to.

There’s not much you can do to keep head lice away (though tying up long hair can help)

So while there’s not much you can do to keep head lice away in the first place (though tying up long hair can help), you can catch any new arrivals by running your lice comb and conditioner through your kids’ hair once a week.

So as you grab your bottle of conditioner and get to work, it’s good to remember that famous old Pantene TV commercial: when it comes to lice removal, «it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen».

And as a consolation for the hours of combing, maybe you can spend what you save on expensive head lice treatments on a nice bottle of wine or chocolates, just to keep your spirits up while you get to work with the comb.

Head lice and nits: the symptoms and treatment

First published on Monday 1 August 2016 00:00 BST Last modified on Wednesday 2 October 2019 , 14:38 BST

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Juliet Blank

With one in three schoolchildren getting nits at some point each year, knowing how to deal with them is one of those mum skills you can’t live without. From spotting the signs to knowing how to comb them out, here’s how to get rid of your child’s head lice quickly and safely.

The terms ‘nits’ and ‘head lice’ might be used interchangeably but actually, they’re two different things.

‘Head lice are small grey-brown insects – about the size of a sesame seed – that live on human scalps. They can’t fly or jump and can affect anyone, with long or short hair, no matter how clean the hair is.

‘Female lice can live for up to 40 days, laying more than 100 eggs in that time. They attach their eggs (known as nits) to hairs close to the scalp surface. These eggs are yellow or white and about the size of a pin head.

‘After seven to 10 days, the eggs hatch, and around seven days after that, the new lice are fully matured and ready to start laying their own eggs.’

That’s why it’s important to check your child for head lice and nits regularly and treat it as soon as you spot the signs of an outbreak.

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Why do head lice love kids?

Whether they’re cosied up at home playing with dolls or trains, engaging in a boisterous game of Zombie Mutants Attack or plaiting each other’s hair, children tend not to respect each other’s personal space.

All of which makes it easy for head lice to spread from one child to another.

Holly warns it can take just 30 seconds for a single louse to transfer from one child’s head to another.

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And because school children spend lots of time in close contact, head lice are extremely common. An outbreak can spread quickly throughout a class or even a whole school.

The charity Community Hygiene Concern warned last year that head lice are likely to become even more prevalent in schools after GPs stopped prescribing treatments for nits.

Meanwhile, a 2011 study (carried out for head lice treatment NYDA) found a third of school children under 16 had experienced a head lice infestation over the previous year.

This soared to 48% for primary school children aged between four and 11.

Adults are less likely to get nits, not because we’re immune but simply because we don’t get as close to other people. That said, if your child has an infestation and cuddles up with you, their head lice will be more than happy to take up residence on your scalp, too.

According to Holly, head lice can affect anyone but are:

  • most common in children between the ages of four and 11
  • more common in girls than boys
  • most often found at the start of the school year.

What do head lice look like?

Not sure what you’re looking for? These images should help .

How to spot head lice

Because children are no longer checked for head lice at school – gone are the days of the ‘nit nurse’ visiting – you’ll need to master the art of nit detection yourself.

Don’t rely on your child having an itchy scalp to alert you to an outbreak of head lice. Not everyone gets irritated by nits and lice, and even if they do, the itching might not start for some months after they first move in.

Scratching your head yet?!

It takes more than just a quick look at your child’s hair to spot nits and head lice. Often, they don’t show up easily.

Sometimes you’ll see little brown or white specks in your child’s hair as a tell-tale sign.

Sometimes you’ll notice them scratching their heads, especially behind the ears or on the neck.

According to the NHS, the only way to be certain if your child has head lice is by detection combing. You can do this on wet or dry hair, but it’s easiest on wet hair.

Dry detection combing: how to do it

This should take five to 15 minutes to check your child’s head, depending on hair length and thickness.

NHS Inform, Scotland’s national health information service, recommends this dry detection combing method:

  • Use an ordinary, wide-toothed comb to detangle the hair.
  • When the hair is tangle-free, switch to a louse detection comb.
  • Make sure the teeth of the comb slot into the hair at the roots. The edge of the teeth should be lightly touching the scalp.
  • Comb down from the crown to the ends of the hair.
  • Look for lice on the comb after each brush. If you see a louse, trap it on the comb with your thumb and then remove.
  • Comb each section of hair up to four times before moving on to the next section. Repeat until the whole head has been combed.

What do you do if you find head lice?

As soon as you become aware of head lice in your child’s hair, you’ll need to treat them for an outbreak.

You’ll also need to check everyone else in the family and treat them, too. This will stop head lice being passed around again.

Here’s how to treat lice and nits.

Wet combing: how to do it

Treating head lice by wet combing means literally combing nits and head lice out of wet hair. It’s an effective way of removing head lice, without having to use a chemical to kill them.

Stuart Gale, chief pharmacist for, believes wet combing is ‘by far and away the most effective and safe method for removing head lice.’

The wet combing method is actually exactly the same one used for detecting head lice (see the dry detection combing method above) where wet hair is combed through carefully with a special comb designed to remove the lice.

The only difference is that you’ll need to comb through your child’s hair regularly until you’ve got rid of not just the live lice, but also any unhatched eggs.

Follow the NHS guide for wet combing:

  • Wash hair with ordinary shampoo
  • Apply lots of conditioner
  • Comb the whole head from the roots to the ends of the hair.

Repeat this wet combing method on days one, five, nine and 13 to catch any newly hatched head lice. On day 17, check again to make sure your child is lice-free.

The downside is wet combing is it’s time consuming: it takes around 10 minutes to comb short hair and 20 to 30 minutes for long, frizzy or curly hair.

But it’s reliable and doesn’t involve using harsh (and expensive) chemicals that may not be suitable for young children or pregnant women.

There are special nit combs on the market which can be helpful for detecting and also eradicating nits.

The Nitty Gritty comb has teeth that have been specially designed to capture eggs and live lice.

How to get rid of head lice in afro hair

It can be tricky to do the dry detection method on afro and multi-textured hair. Instead, if your child has natural hair then try the wet combing method, above, instead.

More drastic steps may be needed if your child has dreadlocks.

‘If your child has dreadlocks and the products aren’t helping then the only option is to remove the dreadlocks and then treat the head lice and nits.’

Treating head lice with lotions and sprays

You can also use a chemical treatment for head lice such as Hedrin, Lyclear and Full Marks, which can be bought over the counter in pharmacies.

You should only use these if you’ve found head lice on your child.

Your pharmacist can advise you on the best treatment. Some are unsuitable for children under two, and shouldn’t be used if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have asthma or allergies.

Make sure you follow the instructions to the letter, to give the treatment the best chance of working. Some only need to be left on your child’s hair for 10 minutes or so, while others have to stay on for as long as eight hours.

Not all chemical treatments kill unhatched eggs, so you usually have to repeat the treatment after a week to kill any lice that have hatched since you first used the product.

Find out why you need to be careful using some head lice products here.

What about using head lice shampoo?

The NHS advises against using shampoos or rinses, as these aren’t as effective as lotions and sprays.

Can you treat head lice with natural products?

Google ‘natural remedies for head lice’ and you’ll see lots of suggestions, including using mayonnaise or oil to suffocate them. There’s no scientific evidence that these methods work, but they could be worth a try.

Find some tips from other mums on ways get rid of nits, here.

Can you still send kids to school with head lice?

If you find head lice or nits in your child’s hair, there’s no need to keep them off school, according to the NHS.

They may have had head lice for a time before you spot the signs, so keeping them home now won’t stop them spreading.

Can you prevent further nits outbreaks?

Although it may be tempting to use head lice treatments regularly to pre-empt getting nits, don’t – not only are these chemicals harsh for your child’s skin but the British Association of Dermatologists says overusing them ‘simply encourages the emergence of resistant strains of lice’.

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In other words, it can make head lice become resistant to treatment.

Holly recommends ‘regular examinations with a nit comb in order to detect an infestation early, as starting treatment sooner rather than later will help prevent further spread.

‘Parents should also keep in mind that head lice can spread to anybody, no matter how clean their hair or home is. It is unnecessary to keep children home from school if they have head lice, however, treatment should be started immediately.’

The NHS also says that there’s no need to wash laundry on a hot wash.

Are children with smartphones more likely to get head lice?

A 2017 study by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (released at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference) found 62.5% of children with smartphones or tablets had head lice compared to 29.5% who didn’t own or use a device.

Researchers think this is partly due to children crowding round smartphones, allowing the lice to jump from one head to another.

How to Kill Lice

Introduction: How to Kill Lice

Oh dear lord. you caught lice. Now what?!

The stigma of being infested with lice should be motive enough for anyone to kill the buggers, but for some reason they are still rampant all over the world. Don’t be the person everyone hates (the one who gave us all lice).

Kill the little bastards before they can spread!
The only acceptable answer is to wipe them out!
Eradicate even the smallest and most pitiful louse!

I’ll show you how.

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Step 1: An Oz. Prevention = Lb. of Cure

People can only get lice from other people, but lice can survive away from their host for a few days. Lice require human hosts so your pets won’t get lice.

Sharing clothes, hats, pillows and brushes is a no-no if you might have lice. Hugs should be careful and restrained until you are clear. Once lice are discovered, a good idea is to quarantine bed pillows or stuffed animals which might be exposed. Quarantine time should be 14 days. Brushes, combs, and hair doodads can be boiled in water for 1 minute to kill lice and eggs. A cycle in a hot dryer will kill off any lice and eggs on cloth.

There are several products in stores which claim to be for treatment of lice, but most of these, as far as I can tell, are more likely to make you sick than to kill lice.

Lice are one of the hardiest life forms you or I is likely to meet. They fall dright between cockroaches and goats on the hardiness scale, and are, for all practical purposes, immune to all poisons marketed for their destruction.

. so how do I kill them?

Step 2: Advanced Hand to Louse Combat Techniques!

The easy and effective ways to kill lice are with heat or combing, and I suggest a mixture of both.

First obtain a delousing comb and a bottle of your favorite conditioner.
Now take a nice hot shower combing the conditioner through your hair and rinsing the comb and the tips of your hair throughout to wash any lice down the drain.

Second, dry your hair with an electric hairdryer, combing it out with only ‘known clean’ combs or brushes. Lice can’t take the heat over 110F, but neither can you! Don’t hurt yourself, but get it nice, hot and dry.

These methods can both be done on yourself, and don’t rely on you actually seeing the lice. Which is a good thing since lice are tiny and tend to be nearly the same color as the hair they hatched on.

Step 3: The Ultimate in Lice Removal: the Liceguard Robi Comb

I especially suggest this electric comb if you have elementary school age kids. It can turn a weekend long nightmare lice eradication frenzy into a 3 minute per day per child treatment. If you are careful with it, it will last for years and keep your family safe from lice.

This device should be used on dry hair only, combed through according to the directions. It will kill lice and nits when used properly, and, if used daily on everyone in the house, it will eradicate an infestion in 2 weeks of daily use.

These combs are about $30, but if you need one, and you know if you do, it’s more than worth it.

Step 4: Know Thy Enemy

Some links to help you bone up on you anti-lice knowledge

Please go kill some lice!

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72 Discussions

Question 2 years ago on Step 2

I can’t wash my daughter’s comforter but I can put it in the dryer. How long should I tumble dry the comforter at high heat to ensure the lice are gone?

Question 2 years ago on Step 3

I’m wondering how to end lice
My child goes to 4 or more peoples places in a month.
I’m sure we had it for more then a year or so. I’m frustrated as I spent over $600. In a year on all of us and told them we had it but they didn’t want to do anything on there end saying they did get them. I’m still itchy and got bumps and blood on my head these pictures show what I’m pulling out of my hair what is it and what can I do ?

I can relate to some of the comments: last summer I was having an itchy head problem. My mom assumed that I had itchy scalp, but the shampoo didnt work, and it eventually got worse. One week I went to a friends house. They saw me itching and decided to check my head. They didnt see any lice but found some eggs(small case). Luckily they had lice treatment lying around. That whole situation was done, but then 2 months later the itching started up again. No one believed me that I had lice again, and I was doubting it too, until one day I was itching my head and one came out into my finger nail — EW- I treated it again and all was well. But then, one or 2 months later, I got it again! and sadly it was discovered at a friends house): and my two friends got it too, but this time we used RID, and that totally took care of it, but now my heads itching again, and everyone’s checking my head and they only see a few eggs, but i see many eggs. And just a couple minutes ago, I found 3 fricking bugs in my hair. yippee. But im scared to tell my mom because every other time I told her, she got very angry. She knows its not my fault but I cant help but feel guilty and helpless. Where do I keep getting it from. the bus? school seats? a friend?( I hug lots of people) And since no one confessed to having it when I got it those 3(now 4) times, I may not know how to prevent it from happening again. so that’s 4 times in one year(: fml.

Reply 2 years ago

Not everyone wants to admit they have lice or know it so check friends that you frequently visit and the the school they might have a problem

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