Are there any over-the-counter treatments for head lice?
There are indeed over-the-counter treatments for head lice. Luckily, these over-the-counter medications are very effective in treating head lice. Over-the-counter treatments are usually the first treatment choice.
Nix®(permethrin) and Rid®(pyrethrin)
The best treatment for children age two years and older is permethrin 1% cream rinse (Nix®). It's even more effective than
prescription treatments, curing 99% of head lice cases after a single application. Nix®
continues to work for up to 2 weeks after the first application. It also kills lice eggs. A
second Nix® treatment in seven days may increase its effectiveness. The most commonly reported
side effects of permethrin products include mild itching and stinging of the scalp.
Another over-the-counter medicine is pyrethrin (Rid®) shampoo. It's effective in 93% of people after one application and rarely causes any side effects. Rid® does not have long lasting activity or kill lice eggs.
Head lice treatment directions
Make sure that hair is completely dry before using Nix® or Rid®. Do not use any cream rinse or conditioning shampoos before or for 2 weeks after using these products. This is because cream rinses and conditioners will coat the hairs and protect the head lice from the killing effect of Nix® or Rid®.
Back to Ask a Pharmacist