Failed Home Remedies: The Best and Worst Ways to Treat Head Lice

As of recently, studies have not shown home remedies to be effective against lice. The best home remedies often lie in prevention. It is always wise to monitor your children (and their hair) if there is a reported lice outbreak at their school. The following home remedies may seem helpful but can actually cause further damage and complications. At best, home remedies can delay effective treatment from your healthcare provider or pharmacist and allow lice to spread to other people.

The Worst:

Vacuuming: While a vacuum is a good tool for cleaning up the ground after manual lice removal with a comb, it is not a wise idea to attempt to vacuum lice out of someone’s hair. This is an uncomfortable and ineffective solution as lice have special claws to hold onto hair. There is no guarantee that all the lice will be vacuumed up. In addition, lice eggs are essentially glued onto the shaft of hair and a vacuum would not be effective in breaking down that glue and sucking away the egg.

Smothering with Mayonnaise: While this home remedy seems innocent enough, it can be risky as well as ineffective. There are cases of young children with plastic bag mayonnaise treatments on their head suffocating due to the plastic bag falling down too far. While this situation is a worst case scenario, it isn’t worth it to put your child’s safety at risk because of an unsafe lice treatment.

Gasoline/Kerosene: This is an extremely dangerous method for combating lice and should never be used on human skin and hair. While this may kill pests like lice it is also extremely likely to lead to injury for the humans involved. There are easier and safer ways to treat lice infestation and toxic, flammable materials should not be experimented with.

Unapproved Outdoor Insecticides: Outdoor insecticides are not formulated for use on the human body and often contain different or more intense ingredients than over the counter lice medications. 

The Best:

Lice Shampoos and Rinses: These shampoos and rinses, such as R&C® Shampoo or Nix® Crème Rinse, use approved ingredients to combat lice. These medications paralyze and kill lice. It is important to comb out and remove dead lice after treatment with these products.

Lice and Nit Combs: These combs should be used in combination with shampoos or crème rinses. They remove dead lice as well as unhatched lice eggs that may not have been affected by the above medications. It is worthwhile to use lice and nit combs in order to avoid infestation from any lingering pests that may have not been hit with the treatment. Consult your healthcare provider for other ideas or information about safe and suggested methods for treating lice. 

Where to Buy

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Simple Tips for Prevention

  • Teach Good Habits. Personal belongings such as brushes, hats, and towels can pass lice. So don't share.
  • Be Aware of Shared Spaces. Keep personal items (hats, coats, etc) out of common areas.  
  • Avoid Outbreaks. If you know of an outbreak, avoid locations where head-to-head contact would occur like sporting activities.