Get rid of lice this summer without harsh chemicals

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You may have survived the school year lice-free. But that doesn't mean parents can let down their guard over the summer. The experts at Consumer Reports say lice can spread just as easily at sleepaway or day camp. (KABC)

You may have survived the school year lice-free. But that doesn't mean parents can let down their guard over the summer. The experts at Consumer Reports say lice can spread just as easily at sleepaway or day camp.

When it comes to getting rid of lice, Consumer Reports' Jeneen Interlandi suggests people skip the chemical products.

"The active ingredients in both Rid and Nix can cause painful side effects including itchy and inflamed skin, chemical burns and even difficulty breathing. What's more -- research suggests that lice are increasingly resistant to the chemicals in these products," she said.

Instead, Consumer Reports said physically combing out the bugs and their eggs is safer and actually more effective than chemical treatments.

The best way to do it is to coat the hair and scalp with a conditioner and with a wide tooth comb, separate the hair in smaller sections. Then, run a metal "nit" comb through each smaller section.

"Lice prefer to live and lay their eggs very close to the scalp so when you do your comb-out, that's the area you want to focus on," Interlandi said.

After you comb through, wipe the comb onto a paper towel to look for lice. When you're finished with the whole head, wash the comb in very hot, soapy water and put the used paper towels in resealable plastic bag before you throw it away.

Continue the comb outs every day until no more live lice are seen. Then, check every few days for about a month.

"Lice can't live off your head for too long so you actually don't have to go crazy with the house cleaning. What you want to do is just focus on the items that have come into direct contact with your child's head over just the past few days," Interlandi said.

Experts advise concentrating on the most important items when it comes to cleaning; soak brushes and combs in boiling water for five to 10 minutes. You can bag up anything that can't be washed, like stuffed animals and pillows, for two weeks.

And be sure to to wash recently worn clothing and bedding, and dry them using a high heat setting.

Finally, be sure to check and treat everyone in your family, so you don't keep passing it around. For more information, visit consumerreports.org.

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