Common treatments for head lice include over-the-counter chemical pesticides like Malathion and Pyrethoids. While these treatments have been shown to be dangerous to school age children, affecting the nervous system of the lice as well as the children, parents use them because they believe they are the fastest, cheapest, and most effective method for getting rid of lice in a single application.
A new study from England found this might not be the case. Researchers used lice combs to remove hundreds of lice from over 3,000 children in elementary schools throughout Wales. Those lice were treated with these over the counter topical application to test the lice’s resistance to the chemicals. Their results showed that 80% of the lice tested were resistant to the treatment, leaving 4 out of 5 head lice resistant to common over-the-counter treatments.
This has major implications for the lice treatment industry. If these chemicals have already been proven to be dangerous, and now ineffective, why would anyone continue to use them on children? Another side effect of ineffective treatments is that parents have a tendency to overuse the product. So when the pesticide treatment doesn’t work on the first application, a second or third application is tried, putting the child at risk for all sorts of health problems and even death.
A more effective and safe treatment for head lice is natural shampoos and essential oils. Common olive oil, tea tree oil and others are helpful in killing the bugs so they can be removed. A lice comb is a fantastic non-toxic way to remove lice from hair. It may take an hour or so to do a thorough and complete job, but is probably the most effective way to remove lice permanently.
There are plenty of natural shampoos and sprays that are safe for the kids, can be used over and over if the problem persists, and can stop lice dead in their tracks. Many shampoos or spray can paralyze the lice to keep them still while you remove with a comb, while others release the lice from the hair shaft making them easier to remove. Other treatments dissolve the outer shell or exoskeleton of the lice, killing them.
Parents have found several different home remedies to lice over the years. Vaseline is a favorite with vinegar to wash the Vaseline out of the hair. Beer has been effective, and some people use a hair dryer on the hottest setting to kill the lice.
More studies need to be done, but these results demonstrate that other alternatives to over the counter pesticides should be considered first when fighting head lice.