To some parents, nothing is more embarrassing than that call from the school nurse. Your child has head lice. First of all, relax. Lice often infest those with the cleanest homes and most scrupulous grooming habits. Lice know no socioeconomic barriers and can afflict anyone through head to head contact or sharing of items such as brushes, towels, or even clothing.
Many parents concerned for the environment and the health of their children balk at the idea of using chemicals to solve an infestation. Standard head lice remedies use pesticides such as permethrin, pyrethrin, or malathion. Such chemicals have been anecdotally linked to acute lymphoblastic leukemia and even death with repeated exposures. It is no wonder that parents who are green-conscious want alternative options for eradicating lice without the use of chemicals.
All of the green, home remedies I describe here are not hostile to the skin, so if one method fails you are free to treat again using another method. Not even prescribed, chemical-based remedies work on all infestations. A certain amount of trial and error is to be expected in any eradication effort.
Many parents have reported success with using Listerine and white vinegar to kill lice. The Listerine kills off the adult lice, and recent studies show the vinegar loosens the nits from the hair shaft, making them easier to comb out with a metal lice comb. If employing this method, be sure to saturate your entire head and rub each product into your scalp and to allow each product to soak for two full hours. Cheap disposable shower caps can help avoid both dripping and the unpleasant odor. Wash after with your normal shampoo and conditioner and carefully comb out all nits and dead adults with a metal lice comb.
If this method fails, others have had success with using plain mayonnaise or Vaseline to smother the lice. It is recommended to smear it deep into every strand of hair and coat the scalp completely, then to wrap the entire head in plastic wrap and then a shower cap. It is advised to leave these products in over night. While some report total eradication with this method, there are others who state that lice can enter a dormant state when suffocated and that it is ineffective. Once again, lice are not all the same, and each infestation will have characteristics different to any other. If you employ these methods, be aware that dish soap is excellent at removing Vaseline and mayo. After the dish liquid, use your normal conditioner to restore softness and shine to your hair.
Other helpful tips that will make these processes much easier for you abound. Lice do not like coconut, and any coconut-containing hair products will help in decreasing the odds of re-infestation. Others suggest using a metal flea comb found in the pet section for the removal of nits, as the teeth are spaced closely together and the smooth surface will not grab and pull at hair as a plastic comb will do. While cleaning your home after a lice outbreak, don’t neglect your car. Furthermore, be aware that human lice have no interest in domestic pets, so they do not require any treatment.
Utilizing these green, safe methods of lice removal is far preferable to harmful, toxic chemicals. With patience and a little possible trail and error, you can eradicate lice from your children’s heads safely using green methods!