Fighting head lice is not as simple as one simple spray application, and then you're done.
Presenting: the Picky Pam Process.
The Picky Pam Process is a pesticide-free lice and nit removal procedure in which our client is treated with our non-toxic enzymes, and combed for hours in tiny sections with a professional grade nit removal comb. After that, the client’s hair is super dried, so that we can magnify, tactility feel, and visually hand pick, strand by strand, any nits or nit debris that are left over from your treatment. This is a highly involved and detailed scientific process that you should expect it can take about 2 hours.
Since we don't believe in the use of pesticides (and lice are becoming more and more resistant to the over the counter pesticides that are available), The Picky Pam Process relies on the use of Picky Pam Pure, which is an all-natural enzyme product that eliminates lice on contact. These all natural, triple purified enzymes loosen the glue that attach the nits to the hair shaft. Combined with the potent power of the professional Terminator Comb, we have perfected our scientific process. This includes a treatment of dimethicone on day 11. At this stage in the lice life cycle, dimethicone will block the spiracles and prevent gut absorption of any microscopic nit that may have been missed at the time of treatment. Fighting lice involves an active battle over a short period of time in order to get rid of them for good. The successful elimination of lice is a team effort for families and requires a maintenance process. This is a key component in the fight against lice, because eliminating lice and removing nits throughout their life cycle, and preventing possible re-infestation from the original source, are paramount to prevailing over head lice!
The right tools make the job of removing lice and nits from the hair possible. Your active participation is key in continuing to follow the Picky Pam Process (a personalized protocol designed just for you) using the proper tools and methods. Since The Picky Pam Process is a team effort, our retail shelves are filled with all sorts of products, tools and implements that can and should be purchased at the time of your head lice and nit removal, to provide for your individualized preventive care plan.
The Picky Pam Process includes an enlightening presentation of the Picky Pam professionally developed combing practice. At the end of our visit, you will possess a unique proficiency in Lice 101, compliments of professional lice removal specialist, Picky Pam, and her equally qualified staff members.
Cleaning your environment of live lice will prevent re-infestation. We recommend you vacuum mattresses, couches, chairs, carpets and area rugs. All bedding, pillows, sheets, blankets, stuffed animals, coats, etc. should be placed in the dryer at the highest temperature setting for at least 30 minutes. For those items that cannot be dried in the dryer, items can be bagged for 72 hours. Our Picky Pam Pure House Louse Spray is a perfect purchase for you if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the dryer. We stock this at our stores for you convenience, and you can purchase it at the time of your appointment if you’d like.
Teach your child not to share certain things with others. Some of these things include:
hats and sport helmets (even in stores)
clothes (dress up and regular)
pillows and blankets
Try to avoid close contact with the head/hair. An example of this would be whispering to a friend. Check your child's head periodically when you see them scratching. A child's head can be itchy from poison ivy, sunburn or even dry skin, so make sure you know what you are looking for. Check your child's head after sleepovers, camps or when they have been exposed to lice. Use Picky Pam Pure Head Lice Spray or Picky Pam Mint Lice Repelling Spray as a preventative before you leave the house, before school, and before sleepovers.
Beware of Over the Counter and Prescription Products
Most over-the-counter lice treatments/shampoos will kill some lice, but are not effective on "super-lice". Most treatments contain pesticides and can have side effects from rashes to seizures. While we NEVER recommend the use of pesticides and toxins in head lice removal, there are those who still want more information about “over-the-counter” preparations. Please remember, most over the counter preparations are pesticides, benignly disguised as shampoos. Many head lice medications are available without a prescription at a local drugstore or pharmacy.
We recommend (and use) Picky Pam Pure, a blend of triple purified, naturally occurring enzymes for safe removal of head lice and nits. Visit our products page to learn more and compare our enzymes with the competition.
Click each product to learn more
Store Products: A-200, Pronto, R&C, Rid, Triple X
Active Ingredients: Pyrethrins combined with piperonyl butoxide
Pyrethrins are naturally occurring insect-killing chemicals taken from chrysanthemum flowers. In the flowers, these bug-killers exist as a mixture of six separate chemicals that together are called pyrethrum or pyrethrins. Pyrethrins, especially when used in combination with chemical enhancers such as piperonyl butoxide, can be toxic to the human nervous system as well and can also cause allergic reactions and exacerbate asthma. EPA classifies pyrethrins as "Suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential". Signs of pyrethin poisoning may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain or difficulty breathing. Treatment failures can be common depending on whether lice are resistant to pyrethrins in the patient’s geographic location. Pyrethrins generally should not be used by persons who are allergic to chrysanthemums or ragweed. Twenty to 80 percent of treated nits survive, necessitating a second treatment seven to ten days after the first application.
Possible side effects include hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat; mild itching, burning, or stinging; mild skin rash; or numbness or tingly feeling
Store Products: Nix, Elimite
Active Ingredients: Permethrin lotion 1% Permethrin is a common synthetic chemical, widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent. It belongs to the family of synthetic chemicals called pyrethroids and functions as a neurotoxin, affecting neuron membranes by prolonging sodium channel activation. Permethrin is used on humans to eradicate parasites such as head lice and mites responsible for scabies; the common prescription is Permethrin with 5% concentration for scabies, and OTC (over-the-counter) treatment for head lice/crabs is usually permethrin with 1% concentration. However, the British National Formulary states that permethrin has low efficacy in eradicating head lice. Permethrin is not approved for use in children less than 2 years old.
Possible side effects include itching; mild burning or stinging; redness; swelling; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue.
Brand-name prescription product: Ovide
Active Ingredients: Malathion lotion 0.5%
Malathion is an insecticide in the chemical family known as organophosphates. Products containing malathion are used outdoors to control a wide variety of insects in agricultural settings and around people’s homes. Malathion has also been used in public health mosquito control and fruit fly eradication programs. Malathion may also be found in some special shampoos for treating lice. Malathion was first registered for use in the United States in 1956. Malathion is an organophosphate. Malathion lotion 0.5% is approved by the FDA for the treatment of head lice. Malathion is intended for use on persons 6 years of age and older. Malathion can be irritating to the skin and scalp; contact with the eyes should be avoided. Malathion lotion is flammable; do not smoke or use electrical heat sources, including hair dryers, curlers, and curling or flat irons, when applying malathion lotion and while the hair is wet.
Possible side effects include mild stinging or irritation of the skin and scalp; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; burning of the skin or scalp.
Brand-name prescription product: Kwell
Active Ingredient: Lindane shampoo 1%
Lindane is an organochlorine chemical variant of hexachlorocyclohexane that has been used both as an agricultural insecticide and as a pharmaceutical treatment for lice and scabies. Although lindane shampoo 1% is approved by the FDA for the treatment of head lice, it is not recommended as a first-line therapy. Overuse, misuse, or accidentally swallowing lindane can be toxic to the brain and other parts of the nervous system; its use should be restricted to patients who have failed treatment with or cannot tolerate other medications that pose less risk. Based primarily on evidence from animal studies, most evaluations of lindane have concluded that it may possibly cause cancer. Lindane should not be used to treat persons with a seizure disorder, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, persons who have very irritated skin or sores where the lindane will be applied, infants, children, the elderly, and persons who weigh less than 110 pounds.
Possible side effects include: burning; redness of skin; skin rash; stinging; rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; dizziness; drowsiness; vomiting. In rare cases, lindane has caused seizures and death. Most patients who experienced these severe side effects used too much lindane or used lindane too often or for too long, but a few patients experienced these problems even though they used lindane according to the directions. Babies; children; older people; people who weigh less than 110 lb; and people who have skin conditions such as psoriasis, rashes, crusty scabby skin, or broken skin are more likely to have serious side effects from lindane. These people should use lindane only if a doctor decides it is needed.
Brand-name prescription product: Ulesfia
Active Ingredient: Benzyl Alcohol Lotion 5%
Benzyl alcohol is used as a general solvent for inks, paints, lacquers, and epoxy resin coatings. It is also a precursor to a variety of esters, used in the soap, perfume, and flavor industries. It is often added to intravenous medication solutions as a preservative due to its bacteriostatic and antipruritic properties. Benzyl Alcohol Lotion 5% is a prescription medicine used to get rid of lice in scalp hair of children and adults. Benzyl alcohol prevents lice from closing their spiracles, thereby asphyxiating them within ten minutes and causing death. It is not known if Benzyl Alcohol Lotion 5% is safe for children under 6 months of age or in people over age 60.
Potential side effects include mild skin or scalp irritation; itching; numbness; pain; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; painful, red skin bumps or ulcers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are head lice?
The head louse, or Pediculus humanus capitis (peh-DICK-you-lus HUE-man-us CAP-ih-TUS), is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease
Who is at risk of getting head lice?
Head lice are found worldwide. In the United States, infestation with head lice is most common among preschool children attending child care, elementary school children, and the household members of infested children. Although reliable data on how many people in the United States get head lice each year are not available, an estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. In the United States, infestation with head lice is much less common among African-Americans than among persons of other races, possibly because the claws of the head louse found most frequently in the United States are better adapted for grasping the shape and width of the hair shaft of other races. Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
Where are head lice most commonly found?
Head lice and head lice nits are found almost exclusively on the scalp, particularly around and behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head. Head lice or head lice nits sometimes are found on the eyelashes or eyebrows but this is uncommon. Head lice hold tightly to hair with hook-like claws at the end of each of their six legs; head lice nits are cemented firmly to the hair shaft and can be difficult to remove.
What are the signs and symptoms of head lice infestation?
Tickling feeling of something moving in the hair. Itching, caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of the head louse. Irritability and difficulty sleeping; head lice are most active in the dark. Sores on the head caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria found on the person's skin.
How do you get head lice?
Head-to-head contact with an already infested person is the most common way to get head lice. Head-to-head contact is common during play at school, at home, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp). Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the spread of human lice.
How is a head lice infestation diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a head lice infestation is best made by finding a live nymph or adult louse on the scalp or hair of a person. Because nymphs and adult lice are very small, move quickly, and avoid light, they can be difficult to find. Use of a magnifying lens and a fine-toothed comb may be helpful to find live lice. If crawling lice are not seen, finding nits firmly attached within a 1/4 inch of the base of the hair shafts strongly suggests, but does not confirm, that a person is infested and should be treated. Nits that are attached more than 1/4 inch from the base of the hair shaft are almost always dead or already hatched. Nits are often confused with other things found in the hair such as dandruff, hairspray droplets, and dirt particles. If you are not sure if a person has head lice, the diagnosis should be made by their health care provider, local health department, or other person trained to identify live head lice
Is infestation with head lice reportable?
Most health departments do not require reporting of head lice infestation. However, it may be beneficial for the sake of others to share information with school nurses, parents of classmates, and others about contact with head lice.
Do head lice spread disease?
Head lice should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Head lice are not known to spread disease. Head lice can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
Can wigs or hairpieces spread lice?
Head lice and their eggs (nits) soon perish if separated from their human host. Adult head lice can live only for 3 days or so off the human head without blood for feeding. Nymphs (young head lice) can live only for 24 hours without feeding on a human. Nits (head lice eggs) generally die within a week away from their human host and cannot hatch at a temperature lower than that close to the human scalp. For these reasons, the risk of transmission of head lice from a wig or other hairpiece is small, particularly if the wig or hairpiece has not been worn within the preceding 72 hours by someone who is actively infested with live head lice.
Can swimming spread lice?
Data show that head lice can survive underwater for 8 hours but are unlikely to be spread by the water in a swimming pool. Head lice have been seen to hold tightly to human hair and not let go when submerged underwater. Chlorine levels found in pool water do not kill head lice. Head lice may be spread by sharing towels or other items that have been in contact with an infested person's hair. Children should be taught not to share towels, hairbrushes, and similar items either at poolside or in locker rooms.
Is using mayonnaise to treat head lice effective?
There is no clear scientific evidence to determine if suffocation of head lice with mayonnaise, olive oil, margarine, butter, or similar substances is an effective form of treatment
Are there any side effects from using chemical treatments for head lice?
Some treatments may cause an itching or a mild burning sensation caused by inflammation of the skin on the scalp. More serious side effects can occur. Most products used to treat head lice are pesticides that can be absorbed through the skin. See Over the Counter for specific risks and side effects of various toxic treatments.
Why do some experts recommend bagging items for 2 weeks?
Head lice can survive up to 3 days if they fall off the scalp and cannot feed. Head lice eggs (nits) cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they do not remain under ideal conditions of heat and humidity similar to those found close to the human scalp. Therefore, because a nit must incubate under conditions equivalent to those found near the human scalp, it is very unlikely to hatch away from the head. In addition, if the egg were to hatch, the newly emerged nymph would die within several hours if it did not feed on human blood. However, although rarely necessary, some experts recommend that items that may be contaminated by an infested person which cannot be laundered or dry-cleaned should be sealed in plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks to kill any lice that already are present or that might hatch from any nits that may be present on the items.
Should my pets be treated for head lice?
No. Head lice do not live on pets. Pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice.
Should commercial household sprays be used to kill adult lice?
No. Using fumigant sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant sprays and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice.
Should I have a pest control company spray my house?
No. Use of insecticide sprays or fogs is NOT recommended. Fumigant spray and fogs can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and they are not necessary to control head lice. Routine vacuuming floors and furniture and spraying an enzymatic house spray is sufficient to remove lice or nits that may have fallen off the head of an infested person.
Will laundering kill head lice?
Washing, soaking, or drying items at a temperature greater than 130°F can kill both head lice and nits. Dry cleaning also kills head lice and nits. Only items that have been in contact with the head of the infested person in the 72 hours before treatment should be considered for cleaning. Although freezing temperatures can kill head lice and nits, several days may be necessary depending on temperature and humidity; freezing is rarely (if ever) needed as a means for treating head lice.
Can I use over-the-counter lice treatments to kill lice?
Yes, most over-the-counter lice treatments will kill some lice, but not the nits. Recent studies show that over-the-counter treatments are only 5% effective on super lice. All contain pesticides and can have side effects from rashes to seizures. Please remember, most over the counter preparations are pesticides, benignly disguised as 'shampoos'. Learn more about risks and side effects at Over-the-Counter.