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The child's hair must be washed with a strong chemical rinse.

Getting rid of lice requires a lot of hard work.

The only symptom of head lice is a very strong itching of the head.

Would you tell me which one I must put instead of the words which I have already italicised?

  • Intense

  • Intensive

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    I'm not sure if this is a practice question on a test, or something else. Personally, I'd leave the first two sentences as is. Both phrases ("a strong chemical rinse" and "a lot of hard work") sound very natural and are easy to understand. You might be able to improve the third sentence by changing "a very strong itching" to "an intense itching," but the other two would best be left alone, I think.
    – J.R.
    Apr 14 '14 at 1:11
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I would use "intense" in the first and third sentences, and "intensive" in the second. "Intense" is a synonym of "strong" when used to refer to the quality of an experience or of a cause. It is not a synonym of "strong" when referring to a person or a material. The chemical rinse is said to be strong because its effect is powerful, so you may call it "intense".

"Intensive" in this context means "showing great effort or care" and makes sense to apply to work, but not to a chemical rinse or an itch. By the way, "intensive" has other, more specialized meanings in education, economics, agriculture, physics, and grammar. These are actually the main uses of the word.

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