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Getting rid of head lice is an intensive process. The question is, can a good anti-dandruff shampoo makes things easier?

It’s tempting to think that dandruff shampoo would be effective for removing head lice. After all, if it gets rid of one scalp problem, perhaps it’ll work on another?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. To find out why, we’ll have a quick look at how dandruff and head lice are different, before we talk about treatment.

Head lice vs dandruff

Head lice are living organisms; these small parasites lay eggs in hair and feed off human blood. When they bite you, their saliva secretions cause a reaction that leads to itchiness and sores.

Along with these symptoms, head lice can be identified by the teardrop-shaped eggs they lay, which are attached to the hair fibers.

They tend to be concentrated behind the ears and the back of the neck.

By contrast, dandruff is caused by sensitivity to oleic acid. This acid is a by-product of malassezia globosa, a yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalp.

50% of the population have skin that is bothered by oleic acid, leading to the classic symptoms of dandruff:

  • Itchiness

  • White flakes in the hair

  • Irritated scalp

So, while these two conditions are very similar at first glance (itchiness, white specks in the hair), their causes are distinct. This means that they each need a unique treatment.

Treating dandruff and head lice

The traditional approach to treating head lice involves two parts: first, an over-the-counter solution is applied to the hair. This kills hatched lice.

Next, a special fine-tooth lice comb is used to remove the eggs that are attached to the hair fibers.

This process must be repeated several times until the last louse is removed – this can take up to four weeks.

Dandruff, on the other hand, is far simpler to deal with.

Using an anti-dandruff shampoo daily for two weeks should take care of the initial problem, easing the symptoms and getting rid of flakes.

Since dandruff is a chronic condition, you should continue to use the shampoo regularly to keep things under control – every time you wash for best results.

The problem with using a dandruff shampoo for head lice comes down to the specific way it tackles the condition.

Dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders work by using the active ingredient, zinc pyrithione. It helps protect your scalp from dandruff-causing oleic acid. It’s been proven on dandruff, but does nothing to inhibit lice.

Head lice need a different approach. Most lice remedies are pediculicides, designed specifically to kill parasites.

If you’ve got lice, stick with what works. But if you have dandruff, you can trust Head & Shoulders to take care of it.

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