Even after using lice treatments like shampoos or medications, you may still feel as if you have lice due to increased skin sensitivity or because the treatment wasn’t effective.

Lice are tiny insects that feed on your blood. They’re commonly spread by sharing objects that touch your hair, such as hairbrushes or hats.

When you have lice, you usually feel itching or tickling on your scalp while they crawl around. The continued presence of these sensations after using treatment could be because of the effects of lice bites or lice treatment on your skin, the continued presence of lice, or anxiety.

Read on to learn more about what can cause itching or crawling sensations after lice treatment, how to get rid of these sensations, and when to contact a doctor.

Here are some of the most common reasons for itching or crawling sensations after lice treatment.

Lice bites are healing

Lice bites take time to heal after lice have been removed. As bites heal, you may still feel some discomfort and itchiness while your skin repairs itself.

The more severe the bites, the longer they’ll take to heal. Infected lice bites may also need additional treatment so that they don’t cause long-term allergic reactions or complications.

Scalp dryness due to treatment

Some lice treatments, such as medicated shampoos or pediculicides, can reduce natural moisture in your hair and scalp.

As lice bites scab over and dry out, they can also result in scalp dryness that can feel itchy or uncomfortable.

Psychosomatic sensations

Ever felt a crawling or tingling sensation on your scalp when you think about bugs or spiders? A similar sensation can happen after you treat lice.

You may still feel the tingling of crawling lice for days or even weeks afterward, especially if you’re still feeling anxious about lice.

You may still have lice

Treatments for lice may not always work the first time. If you use a lice comb to remove lice yourself, for example, you might miss a few lice or lice eggs (nits) if you don’t thoroughly comb out each section of hair.

Some medicated shampoos, ointments, or oral medications like ivermectin (Soolantra, Sklice, Stromectol) may also not completely kill all lice if you don’t closely follow treatment instructions or take the full dose of your prescribed medication.

Lice are also resistant to some medicated treatments, like permethrin (Nix Creme Rinse, Stop Lice), which means that a full round of medication may still not fully treat a lice infestation or remove all the nits from your hair.

Here are some methods to help treat itching or crawling sensations and other lice symptoms after treatment:

Speak with a doctor if you continue to have itching, tickling, or pain on your scalp for a few days even after you’ve used one or more lice treatments.

Seek immediate medical help if you start to notice symptoms of infections, like folliculitis, furunculosis, or carbunculosis, such as:

  • redness
  • a feeling of warmth around your scalp
  • discharge from areas that itch
  • bleeding
  • fever

Here are some ways to take care of your hair after lice treatment:

  • Use a lice comb every day to remove any lice or nits as needed.
  • Don’t use any other shampoos or conditioners until you’ve finished your lice treatment.
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly and use a towel to dry your hair.
  • Don’t use anything on your hair that may have touched your scalp during a lice infestation.
  • Use natural moisturizers or oils to keep your scalp hydrated after a round of lice treatment.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about lice and itching.

Is it normal to still be itchy after lice treatment?

You probably won’t be too itchy after lice treatment if it works well.

How long will my head itch after the lice are gone?

The itching or crawling sensations should go away right away if the lice treatment is effective. Your head might continue itching if your scalp is dry, if you’re allergic to medication, or if the lice haven’t been fully removed.

How do you know when lice are completely gone?

Check your hair closely for a few weeks after you find lice and treat them. Use a comb and a magnifying glass to look closely at your hair regularly for any lice or nits that may still be holding onto your hair or scalp. Continued itching or crawling sensations could mean that you still have lice.

Will dead lice fall out after treatment?

Dead lice don’t always fall out after treatment. Lice have sharp, curved claws on each foot that help them hang onto the shafts of your hair, and nits stick to hair because of a coating on their shells.

You may still need to check for dead lice and eggs to manually remove them from your hair after treatment.

Can you use conditioner after lice treatment?

Always check the label of the lice treatment product before using any hair conditioner. Conditioners and shampoos are typically, but not always, considered safe to use after lice treatment.

It’s normal to still feel like you have lice after treatment. The itching and tickling sensations should go away after a few days.

Speak with a doctor if your scalp is still itchy or painful after a few weeks or if you notice any symptoms of a scalp infection.