It would be nice if the solution to head lice lay right in your pantry. But do home remedies for head lice really get rid of the creepy crawlies, once and for all?
Here's a look at some of the home remedies used for head lice and their effectiveness.
- The idea behind using mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, food-grade oil, or margarine is that these thick and heavy substances cover the louse's air holes, effectively smothering them. Although this technique may make it hard for lice to breathe, it likely won't kill them.
- There isn't any evidence that tea tree oil and aromatherapy are effective treatments for head lice.
- Never use gasoline or kerosene. These products are flammable and toxic and can be extremely dangerous.
The bottom line? Save the mayo for your sandwich and focus on the methods that have evidence to back up their effectiveness.
A technique called wet combing has been suggested as a treatment to remove live head lice. In wet combing, you use a lice comb to remove the lice. The wet combing process is repeated every 3 to 4 days for a 2-week period. Any lice that hatch from nits after the first session are removed at the second, third, and fourth sessions, so it is important to do all 4 sessions. Some recommend daily combing, with each session often lasting several hours. This may make the wet combing option simply too long and arduous to consider for some families.
Although wet combing is cheap and safe, it is time-consuming and there is little evidence to support its use as primary treatment for lice. As well, it may be impossible to effectively comb through tight curls. Some people suggest using vinegar along with wet combing; however, there are no studies showing any benefit to this treatment.
Your pharmacist is also a great source of information on treatment options for head lice. If you had been hoping that home remedies would work because you feel more confident in their safety, speak to your pharmacist. They can talk you through the safety of head lice treatments, including treatment options that contain traditional insecticides and those that don't. Your pharmacist can help you choose a product that you feel comfortable using.
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