Home Remedies for Head Lice
Many parents are turning to home remedies for head lice these days as news reports about the toxicity of chemical treatments have surfaced. There are many home remedies for head lice, but their effectiveness varies and some of them are as dangerous as the chemicals they're intended to replace. Following is a guide to which home remedies for head lice are helpful, which are useless, and which are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Home Remedies for Head Lice
The best home remedy for head lice is a simple fine-toothed comb! The main difficulty in eradicating lice is getting rid of the nits (lice eggs that attach themselves to hair close to the scalp). Once the live lice have been treated with anti-lice shampoo, nits must be removed to prevent a recurrence, and this is best done by combing them out of the hair with a comb with superfine tines.
Another way to do this is with tweezers, and if the hair is very fine, cutting the strands with nits attached also works. This method is very time consuming and tedious but is the only way to ensure a truly lice-free head. Special combs that are specifically intended to remove nits are available at most drugstores. Directions for how to use the comb most effectively are usually included in the packaging, but can also be found online. If using this method you should recheck the head periodically to make sure all of the nits have been successfully removed.
Other home remedies for head lice that may or may not help include treating the hair with olive oil, cooking oil, oil mixed with vinegar, mayonnaise, petroleum jelly or some other extremely greasy unguent, which is left on the head overnight, covered with a shower cap. It is very difficult to get these oils or creams out of the hair and they have no proven effect on head lice.
Tea tree oil and other essential oils are also sometimes touted as natural remedies for head lice, but their effectiveness is not proven. In addition, essential oils can be dangerous for small children. They are poisonous when ingested and can burn the skin if applied directly. If you feel you must try tea tree oil as a home remedy for head lice, purchase shampoo from a natural food market that already contains it.
Dog shampoo is a home remedy for head lice that is often mentioned. If it is effective at all, it is because it contains pyrethrins or permethrin, the active ingredients in anti-lice shampoos. However, the dog shampoos are not formulated for humans and are not regulated to be safe. If you are willing to use chemical treatments you are better off using shampoo intended for this purpose that is regulated for safety.
One home remedy for head lice that should be avoided at all costs is kerosene, also known as lamp oil. Kerosene is extremely flammable and many children have gotten severely burned from parents attempting to treat lice with it and accidentally igniting it. Avoid kerosene at all costs; it is the absolute worst treatment for head lice possible.