Non-Toxic and Effective Lice Treatment
"Your child has lice! Please come and collect them.” If you’ve just put down that phone call, you’re probably trying not to freak out, as well as suddenly feeling rather itchy yourself!
Lice are an all-too-common nightmare for American parents. Every year, as many as 6 to 12 million infestations are discovered in three to eleven-year-olds. It’s not that they’re dirty or more attractive to lice than others - this age group tends to play in close quarters.
If you’re dealing with an infestation, you’re probably concerned about how to effectively treat lice. You may have heard of “super lice” that are resistant to conventional treatment. In fact, conventional treatments such as pyrethroids have also been linked with some nasty side effects.
Pyrethroids are a known neurotoxin and can cause health havoc for your child. When you walk into a store for an over-the-counter lice treatment, you need to be aware that it is not always “safe.”
Every parent would prefer non-toxic lice treatments for their child, so what should you look for?
The Facts of Lice
It helps to understand how lice work so you can make an informed assessment of the treatments available. Lice are small, grayish-white insects about the size of a sesame seed. They feed on blood from the scalp.
If your child is infested, you will probably also notice the eggs, known as “nits.” These nits take 6 to 9 days to hatch into nymphs. This is important to know as some treatments do not kill the eggs.
If your child has dandruff, this may be mistaken for nits. You’ll probably want to get a proper diagnosis – a lot of school days are missed each year due to lice!
Now to bust some common myths:
- You don’t need to treat your pet. Human lice do not go for pets;
- You don’t need to treat your furniture. Lice don’t live on furniture;
- You don’t need to worry that your child is “dirty.” Lice love clean hair;
- You don’t need to worry about transmitting illness. Lice aren’t dangerous; and
- Lice can’t jump, fly or swim. They are passed on through close contact.
Watch how closely young children tend to play together and you’ll see how easily lice can be passed around. They put their heads together and they share hats from the dress-up box. Kids get lice while simply being kids!
Non-Toxic Lice Treatment Options
Now that you’re armed with a few facts, you’re ready to find safe, non-toxic lice treatment options that actually work. There are several treatments out there which only check the non-toxic box. Look for treatments which have the backing of research for their effectiveness.
Non-Toxic Lice Treatment (Questionable Effectiveness)
Many home remedy treatments fall into this “questionable” category. Sure, coating your hair with mayonnaise is non-toxic, but your only result may be to smell like a sandwich!
Most home remedy treatments work the same way; they are usually designed to suffocate or smother the lice. Treatments may include coating the hair with things like:
- Coconut oil;
- Mayonnaise; or
- Olive oil.
These treatments might work to smother the lice, but they don’t work to get rid of the nits. Lice can last 6-8 hours without air. How long is your child likely to comply with having oil or mayonnaise all over their hair?
Tea tree oil is another common non-toxic lice treatment. This oil has a smell that repulses lice, but unfortunately doesn’t send them packing if they’re already there. Unfortunately, its active lice-fighting ingredient, anticholinesterase, is less effective these days. Lice have developed resistance to common insecticides, which includes this active ingredient. This means tea tree oil can be good as a preventative measure, but not so much as a treatment.
Non-Toxic Lice Treatment (Research-Backed)
Where does that leave non-toxic lice treatment? Let’s look at a couple of options that have been backed by research:
Dimethicone shampoos. These are silicone-based shampoos with no nasty toxins. The lubricant coats the lice, which prevents them from getting the water they need to survive.
Research into dimethicone treatments has been very positive. Not only is dimethicone effective, but it results in significantly less reported side-effects than pyrethroids. As it is not an insecticide, it is unlikely that lice will be able to develop resistance to the treatment.
Dimethicone does not kill the nits, but it does make them much easier to comb out of hair. As a bonus, you don’t have to leave it in for hours like those home remedies!
- Electric lice combs. It might sound a bit like science fiction, but yes, you can electrocute lice to remove them from hair! This is a non-toxic lice treatment that is also very safe. The lice will be stunned or electrocuted, but it’s perfectly safe as the user will not be.
Lice combs involve no shampoos or stinky solutions. They can be used on dry hair and are one of the least fussy treatments. You should section your child’s hair to ensure proper coverage of lice. Those with thick hair may need to be treated in layers.
The electric lice comb will not kill the nits. As such, be aware of that lice lifecycle. You will need to repeat treatment over a period of 10 days.
Non-toxic lice treatment is a priority for most concerned parents. Fortunately, there are some treatments that are both safe and effective. This is the magic combination if you want an infestation cleared up as quickly as possible!
- LiceGuard Webmaster