How to Treat Lice Nits During Pregnancy — Nits in Hair — Removal and Info

Nits in Hair – Removal and Info

Pregnancy is a difficult time, without having to worry about lice and nits (louse eggs) infestation. Using chemicals to treat lice during pregnancy isn’t safe, since chemical shampoos contain pesticides.

Commercial lice treatments like Nix even contain permethrin, which has been linked to autism and brain damage during fetal development. So, can you safely treat the lice and nits while pregnant?

Here are some at home remedies for lice pregnancy that are safe to use during any trimester:

Mayonnaise or Olive Oil, and Shower Cap: Both mayonnaise and olive oil contain omega-3 fats. Not only are these fats super healthy for your hair – they make your scalp and hair roots slippery, making it hard for adult lice to hang on. These fats also weigh your hair down, suffocating lice and nymphs. As for nits, mayo and olive oil loosen the “glue” holding the nits to the hair shaft, letting you comb them out easily. You can also put Vaseline in your hair place of mayo or olive oil. To apply, simply lather hair in mayonnaise and olive oil, roll the hair into a shower cap, and leave on at night while sleeping – repeat as needed.

Liceguard Zap Comb for Lice: Since chemicals are not safe to use while pregnant, you might have to use the old fashioned lice comb and nitpicking method. But picking out nits and lice with a nit comb isn’t as painful as in the past – electricity is on your side. The Liceguard Zap Comb uses one double AA battery, which sends a small pulse of electricity down your hair as you comb out the nits. You won’t feel any pain, since hair is just dead skin cells, but the lice and nits will be zapped dead by the electric comb.

Cost – This method costs under $30 at most pharmacies

Kill Them With Conditioner: Buy any brand of conditioner (not shampoo with conditioner) from the local drug store – generic brand conditioner is fine. Apply the conditioner liberally to wet hair after a shower, and leave in (don’t rinse!) for 1-2 hours. After the 2 hours are up, still without rinsing the conditioner, use a lice comb to rid hair of lice and nits. The conditioner makes the hair slippery for nits and lice to hold onto – making combing them out a breeze. Repeat the conditioner method for 2 weeks, or until the nits and lice are gone.

Use Neem or Tea Tree Oil: Both Neem Oil and Tea Tree oil are natural cures for lice nits, which have been historically used with great success to get rid of lice. Best of all, using oils is an all natural herbal method that won’t harm your baby. Both Neem Oil and Tea Tree oil contain an herbal enzyme called polythenals, which interrupts the development and reproductive growth of lice. If they can’t reproduce, lice can’t infest your scalp with itching and bites. Oils have the additional benefit of making hair slippery, which can prevent a female louse from laying new eggs and reinfesting you. To apply, simply mix into your shampoo bottle, or apply to wet hair and leave in after conditioning.

Get Rid of Remaining Lice Nits

Once you’ve gotten rid of lice on your scalp, use heat (not chemical sprays) to kill lice on sofas, mattresses, pillows, carpeting and sheets. Drag everything you can out into the sun to bake, which kills lice hiding there. Everything small enough (like clothing and sheets) should be bagged up, suffocating lice and their nits. Finally, big items like sofas and couches require a chemical spray to kill remaining lice. If you’re pregnant, have someone you trust spray lice preventing chemicals, and avoid breathing them in yourself.

To prevent lice infestation in the future, check your children thoroughly for lice at the first signs of itching and scratching. Avoid sleeping in strange beds, if possible, and as always avoid sharing hats, combs and hair clips. These tips will help you treat lice during pregnancy, and prevent it from coming back for a future pregnancy.

Head Lice during Pregnancy – Treatment & Preventive Measures

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Pregnancy is one of the most difficult times in the life of a woman. After the initial euphoria of learning that a baby is on the way, pregnancy starts to affect the mother in ways she’d never imagined. A whole lot of hormones are released into the bloodstream, and this time is also accompanied by physical and emotional changes. In short, worrying about louse eggs or lice is the last thing that any person would want during pregnancy.

There are many lice treatments on offer and are available in the most basic medical stores. However, as an expecting mother, the only thing that will be on your mind will be whether these lice treatments are safe for your child. Chemical shampoos may contain pesticides, which have been linked towards brain damage and autism in the unborn child if used- the choice as to how to treat lice is an important one.

In this article, let us take a look at what lice infestation means, and how it can be treated without bringing about any harm to your child.

What are Head Lice?

Head lice refer to small insects that live on the scalp and bite you around the scalp. These insects feed on the blood it retrieves by biting the scalp. In most cases, lice do not carry any sorts of diseases or germs- they simply cause irritation and itching by biting the scalp. Adult female lice attach themselves to the root of the hair and lay eggs there within 7 to 10 days of being born.

It is extremely easy to contract a lice infestation, as it spreads via the slightest head-to-head contact in most cases. If a person is infested by lice, it is important to ensure that she does not have any common bombs, towels or even hats- those are all medium through which the infestation spreads.

Is it Safe to Use Lice Treatment during Pregnancy?

After a woman is found to be pregnant, doctors advise her to check before consuming any sort of medication- this is because the medicines have to be vetted, and checked to find out if they cause any harm to the child. However, in the case of lice, women simply rush to the nearest medicine shop and ask for a lice treatment shampoo, often forgetting that the shampoo might be made up of harsh chemicals. These chemicals may contain significant amounts of pesticides, which can affect the health of the pregnant woman and the unborn child adversely. Therefore, it is best to try out natural lice treatments instead of opting for chemical shampoos.

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How to Treat Head Lice in Pregnant Women?

You can either use natural substances and items to treat the lice, or go the medicine way:

Medical Treatment

Medicines are preferred only if you try out natural remedies first after they have failed to treat the situation. Most lice shampoos and crème rinses are not very effective, so sprays and lotions are your best bet. A 4% Dimethicone lotion has been approved for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women, so you can procure that from the drugstore. Even then, make sure to check the label before buying the product, to see if there are any warnings against use by pregnant women. You can also consult the doctor if any doubts remain. You might have to use the product twice so that all the remaining louse eggs after the first usage also get killed.

If you observe that the problem does not go away even after using the lotions, prescription medications must be obtained. You have to visit the doctor and let him know that you are pregnant before getting his prescription.

Natural Ways to Treat Lice

  • Tea tree oil in its pure form can get rid of lice without causing any harm to your fetus. You will need to mix a few drops of the oil in baby shampoo and apply it on your scalp while bathing. According to the extent of the infestation, massage it into the scalp. Let it stay on the hair for around half an hour, after which you can rinse your hair thoroughly. You can repeat this method as many times as required.
  • Nitpicking is another great way to help you get rid of lice. First, divide the scalp into eight manageable areas, and then comb each one thoroughly to get rid of as many lice as possible. Then, you can use your fingers for a more thorough search. Repeat this after a week to get rid of the lice from the hatched eggs.
  • Lavender oil, neem oil, eucalyptus oil and clove oil are also great to combat lice infestation.

Tips for Preventing Lice during Pregnancy

  • After you have gotten rid of the lice in your head, you can kill any remaining lice in the mattresses and clothes using heat. Just let them bake in the sun for a few hours, so that all remaining lice are killed.
  • If the items are big, you can use chemical sprays- this is useful to get rid of the lice in sofas and couches. Make sure that you get somebody’s help, and not breathe in the pesticides yourself.
  • If you observe someone around you scratching their head, take preventive measure at the earliest to stop it from spreading.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If you have tried natural remedies and over-the-counter sprays and nothing has worked, you might have to consult the doctor to get rid of the lice infestation. Do mention that you are pregnant so that you get only medicine that is safe for the growth of the child.

Lice are more of an irritation than a disease and can worsen the mood of an expecting mother. Treating lice is not difficult, but prevention is the best way however, you must consult a doctor if you are unable to treat the infestation yourself.

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How to Treat Head Lice During Pregnancy

Lice, or pediculus humanus capitis, are wingless, parasitic insects that annually affect approximately 6 to 12 million U.S. children ages 3 to 11. Lice transmission occurs from direct contact with inanimate objects, such as a comb, brush, hat or scarf. Treating head lice during pregnancy can be a nuisance since most of the over-the-counter treatments contain toxic chemicals, but non-toxic home remedies are available, though they are not a substitute for medical treatment 2. Consult with your health-care provider if the condition persists or to discuss alternative treatments.

Apply the oil, mayonnaise or jelly product to your hair. Start near the scalp and work the product in to ensure that all the hair strands are saturated. Oil helps to suffocate the lice and prevent the parasite from laying additional eggs.

Wrap your head with a shower cap or plastic wrap. If you are using a shower cap, make sure it fits snugly to prevent airflow.

Apply a liberal amount of heat to your wrapped head with the hair dryer. Heat might help to kill the lice. Let the oil product remain on your hair for approximately 30 more minutes. You also can skip the heat treatment and leave the oil product on your scalp for at least two hours, or even overnight.

Cleanse your hair with shampoo. Apply shampoo and massage your scalp and hair strands to help loosen the oil product. Rinse with water, then lightly dry your hair with a towel.

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a container to make a rinse. Apply the mixture to your hair, ensuring you cover all hair strands. Dr. Karen E. Burke, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon in New York City, notes that vinegar helps to remove and wash the dead nits off hair strands, and it mght give your hair a thick and shiny appearance.

Comb your hair in sections using a lice comb or fine-tooth comb. Divide the hair in sections and wipe the comb using disposable paper towels after each pass through your hair. Wiping the comb between passes lets you gauge the severity of the problem and prevent reinfestation.

You might need to wash your hair several times to remove the mayonnaise, olive oil or petroleum jelly.


Disinfect any combs or brushes used during the treatment process by soaking in a bleach solution, using equal parts bleach and water. Wash any towels used immediately afterward, using hot water to kill any live lice.

Lice Treatments While Pregnant

While over-the-counter and prescription remedies for lice removal are often effective, pregnant women may be hesitant to use these chemicals because of concerns that they might damage the unborn baby. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, contraindicates the use of at least one prescription lice product, lidane shampoo, for pregnant women. Since lice do not go away on their own, treatment is necessary to destroy both the adult lice and their eggs, or nits.

Mechanical Treatment

Before the advent of insecticide products to treat head lice, the only method of eradicating the problem was to physically remove the nits. This method can still be used to remove lice, but it has the disadvantage of being time-consuming. Nit combs have particularly fine teeth that can remove both the adult lice and their nits. Flea combs sold at pet stores can also be used to remove lice and nits from the scalp. According to Dr. Alan Greene, a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and Attending Pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital, using a hot blow dryer on the hair for 15 minutes before mechanical delousing may improve the effectiveness of this treatment. This combination of hot air and combing can be done twice a day — once in the morning and once at night.

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Smothering kills head lice by cutting off their air supply. Pregnant women with lice can apply a thick, oily substance to the head, such as mayonnaise or petroleum jelly, and cover the coated head with a plastic shower cap. This treatment should be left on the head for eight hours or longer and then washed off. Some women choose to put the substance on the hair before going to bed and let the lice smother overnight. Sometimes, the hair does not wash clean right away, and it may take up to a week to completely remove the oily substance from the hair.

Oil Treatment

According to Dr. Greene, a solution invented and promoted by the Packard Children’s Health Services Pediatric Hotline at Stanford may be effective at removing lice. This solution is made up of 3 tbsp. of olive oil, 1 tsp. of tea tree oil, 1 tsp. of rosemary or eucalyptus oil, and a small amount of regular shampoo. This mixture should be applied to the hair and left on for half an hour under a tight-fitting shower cap. It may require a few rinses to thoroughly remove the mixture after use.

Topical Medication

Some types of topical anti-lice medication may be safe for use during pregnancy under certain conditions, explains the CDC. Women who choose to use a topical product should consult their doctor before use, and should try other methods of treatment before using insecticides. Possible ingredients that a doctor may suggest trying include malathion and permethrin.

How to Treat Lice Naturally During Pregnancy

Lice are small insects that live on blood from the scalp. Transmission of lice generally occurs through direct contact because lice crawl but cannot fly or jump.

Most commonly occurring in children, lice can be spread by sharing items such as hats, combs, brushes, hair accessories, towels, pillows, clothing, and headphones. The good news is that they do not carry viral or bacterial diseases.

Symptoms of lice include an itchy scalp, visible lice on the scalp, and nits (lice eggs) on hair shafts. Lice can be difficult to see as they are small, move quickly, and their nits tend to blend in with hair.

Thus, you may not even realize you have lice. Additionally, if it is your first time to have lice, it can take 2 to 6 weeks before you experience any itching.

How to Treat Lice Naturally During Pregnancy

One option for treating lice naturally is to use a fine-toothed nit comb to comb through wet hair. Make sure the hair is wet and lubricated with conditioner. Then, using a fine-toothed comb specifically for lice, comb through your hair from your scalp through the ends, making sure you comb through your entire head at least twice per session.

With each stroke through the hair, check the comb for any lice, and rinse them off. Repeat this every three days for a few weeks. Continue this process for two weeks after you no longer see any lice.

You can also try using essential oils such as tea tree oil, lavender oil, neem oil, clove oil, and eucalyptus oil.

Keep in mind that these oils are not required to meet the same efficacy and safety standards as FDA-approved drugs. Prior to use, place a drop on the back of your hand to see if you are allergic to the oil.

In rare cases, some individuals are allergic to certain essential oils. To use, mix 15-20 drops of the essential oil with two ounces of olive oil.

Apply to the scalp and hair, and let sit overnight for at least 12 hours. The following morning, comb through your hair, shampoo, rinse and repeat the treatment if necessary.

Other household products can be used to smother the lice. These include olive oil, butter, and mayonnaise. Simply apply the product to the hair and scalp, cover the hair with a shower cap, and let sit overnight.

Once you have treated your hair, you may want to clean various household items as well. While lice cannot survive more than one day without living near a scalp, cleaning certain items that have been used in the past couple of days may be beneficial. Wash clothes, bedding, and stuffed animals in hot water.

Clean any hair care items, such as brushes, combs, and hair accessories in hot water as well. You may want to vacuum the floor in addition to any upholstered furniture. Lastly, place any items that cannot be washed in a sealed plastic bag or container for two weeks.

How to Treat Lice during Pregnancy When Naturally Does Not Work

Over-the-Counter Medications

If natural remedies do not help, your next best option is over-the-counter lotions or sprays. These should be used only if you see a moving head louse. It is not recommended to use lice shampoos and crème rinses as they are not generally effective.

One lotion that has been approved for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women is 4% dimethicone lotion.

Carefully check the label of any other lice treatment products for warnings related to the use of the product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist before using the product.

To use a lotion or spray, follow the instructions, which may vary depending on what kind of treatment you use. Make sure to cover the scalp through the ends of the hair, and let the treatment sit for the time specified in the directions. After three to five days, check the head for hatching eggs.

Then check again after 10-12 days. Lice treatments may not clear all louse eggs, so it is recommended to use at least two applications.

Prescription Medications

If the lice persist even after you use an over-the-counter lotion or spray, you may need to visit your doctor for a prescription. Your doctor may recommend medication such as benzyl alcohol (Ulesfia) or malathion (Ovide), both of which are safe to take during pregnancy but not while nursing.

Some medications, including lindane, are not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women to take. Therefore, it is important to let your doctor know that you are pregnant so they can prescribe you the proper medication.

Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. DeGrandpre, Z. (2013). Home remedies for head lice: What works?

2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, June 18). Head lice.

3. NHS Choices. (2014). Treating head lice.

How to treat lice during pregnancy?

This sheet talks about exposure to lice and scabies in a pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This information should not take the place of medical care and advice from your healthcare provider.

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What are lice?

Lice are parasitic insects that can live on the body or in hair. Head lice are the most common type of lice. Lice hatch out of eggs that are called nits. Nits are usually yellow or white and are about the size of a knot in thread. Adult lice have six legs and are a tan to grayish-white color. Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed. Lice usually cause itching and rashes. You can get lice by touching someone who has lice, mainly from head to head contact. It may also be possible to get lice from sharing an infected person’s clothing, towels, brushes, or other personal items. Lice crawl; they cannot jump or fly. Lice cannot live more than 2-4 days off the human body. Head lice are not known to spread disease.

What is scabies?

Scabies is the spread of mites (a type of insect) on the skin. The mites are so small they usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. The mites burrow into the skin and cause itching and rashes. You can get scabies by touching someone who has scabies, but usually you have to be touching for a long time (more than just a quick handshake). You can also get scabies by sharing clothes, towels, or bedding with someone who has scabies.

How can I tell if I have lice or scabies?

Lice will cause itching and rashes, usually on the scalp. You can sometimes see adult lice crawling through hair or on the scalp. You can also look for the nits (eggs) attached to the hair close to the scalp.

Scabies will cause itching all over the body and it is usually most severe at night. You may see a rash or raised S-shaped lines on the skin. Your healthcare provider can tell if you have scabies by taking a scraping of the skin and looking for the mites or their eggs under a microscope.

How can I protect myself from getting lice or scabies during my pregnancy?

If someone in your household or other close contact has lice or scabies, it is possible for you to get them too. To prevent this from happening, the person that has lice or scabies needs to be treated as soon as possible. All clothing and bed linens that the person wore or came in contact with in the two days before treatment should be dry-cleaned or washed in HOT water and dried in high heat for at least 20 minutes, and/or removed from body contact for at least 72 hours. The person’s combs and brushes should be soaked in rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant for one hour. If they are heat resistant, they can be soaked in hot water (at least 130 degrees) for 5-10 minutes. Floors, furniture, car seats and other fabric covered items should be vacuumed.

I am pregnant and I have lice. Will the ingredients in over-the-counter products used to treat lice increase the chance of birth defects?

Over-the-counter lice medications are usually cream rinses for hair. Usually, they contain either permethrin (brand name Nix®) or pyrethrin and piperonyl butoxide (one brand name Rid®). There are different brands available at the drugstore, and new medicines are coming onto the market. MotherToBaby does not make specific recommendations for treatment; talk with your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. There are also treatments available by prescription.

Permethrin, pyrethrin and piperonyl butoxide are insecticides that do not pass through the skin into the blood in high amounts. Most animal studies have not shown an increased chance for birth defects when these insecticides were used during pregnancy. Small studies of women who used permethrin during pregnancy did not show an increase in the chance for birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women use permethrin or pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide to treat lice during pregnancy. Always follow the instructions on the bottle carefully. If a 2 nd treatment is recommended, be sure to follow the timeline instructions. Reapplying too soon or too late can lower treatment success.

Will prescription strength lice treatment increase the chance for birth defects?

If over-the-counter treatments fail to kill the lice, you should see a healthcare provider about getting a different kind of lice medication. Common prescription medications for lice are malathion and ivermectin. The animal and human data do not suggest an increased chance of pregnancy problems with the use of malathion.

The limited information regarding the use of ivermectin has not suggested an increased chance of problems during pregnancy. Since it is not well studied for use in pregnancy, other, better studied treatments may be recommended.

What do I do if I think I have scabies during my pregnancy?

If you think you have scabies, you should see a healthcare provider. They will look at your skin carefully. To confirm a diagnosis of scabies, your healthcare provider may take a scraping of your skin. There are several medications that can be used to treat scabies, including benzyl benzonate, sulfur in petrolatum and lindane. One study has shown no increased chance of problems in pregnancy after using benzyl benzonate lotion. Sulfur in petrolatum is not thought to increase risks when used in pregnancy.

Lindane is sometimes used to treat scabies if other treatments fail. Lindane can cause toxic side effects in children and adults and is generally avoided in pregnancy. Studies in pregnant animals have not shown lindane to cause birth defects. You should talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using your specific prescription medication to treat scabies during pregnancy, or contact MotherToBaby with the name of your medication so that we can discuss your specific exposure.

Can I breastfeeding while using lice and scabies medications?

The CDC suggests that breastfeeding women use pyrethrin or permethrin to treat lice and scabies, because the amount absorbed after topical use is limited. Ivermectin passes into breast milk in small amounts. Lindane is usually avoided during breastfeeding because it is not recommended for use in young children. Malathion is not well studied in breastfeeding mothers. If you are breastfeeding, talk to a healthcare provider before using a prescription medication to treat lice or scabies, and about all of your breastfeeding questions.

If a man has lice or scabies, could it affect his fertility (ability to get partner pregnant) or increase the chance of birth defects?

Lice and scabies may be spread through sexual intercourse. Any household member that has lice or scabies should be treated immediately to prevent spreading to other household members.

Most medications are not thought to increase the chance of birth defects when a father uses them before or around the time of conception. Lice and scabies may be spread through sexual intercourse. Any household member that has lice or scabies should be treated immediately to prevent spreading to other household members.

In general, exposures that fathers have are unlikely to increase risks to a pregnancy. For more information, please see the MotherToBaby fact sheet Paternal Exposures at

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