Non-Toxic, Pesticide-Free, People-Friendly Lice Shampoo Treatment
If you have children, you know the headache that lice can create -- keeping kids home from school (and taking time off work), disinfecting your home actually treating for the lice and eggs. Thus it’s easy to see why people will go to any length to find a lice shampoo treatment that eliminates this creepy nuisance, including powerful pesticide-laced shampoos. It’s important to understand, however, the potential side effects of these products, and note that non-toxic lice shampoos can be as effective and safer for your child.
Toxic vs. Non-Toxic Lice Shampoos
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 6 to 12 million children in the U.S. will be affected by head lice this year. That’s a serious problem that requires serious attention. However, some of the available lice shampoo treatments use toxic chemicals that have no business on your child’s scalp where skin tends to be thinner. And keep in mind, that while all approved drugs manufactured for sale must meet a criterion for safety, safety does not mean zero risk.
WARNING: Are you using a product with one of these chemicals?
An ingredient in several prescription-strength treatments, lindane is an organochlorine insecticide that can cause serious side effects in humans. Studies show that lindane can be toxic to brain cells. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that it can no longer be used in the U.S. on crops or cattle (and it’s been banned in 52 countries). Yet, it remains on the market in lice shampoo treatments.
Permethrin is commonly found in pesticides, and affects the nervous system. It works well to control insects, causing muscle spasms, paralysis and death. In humans, it is know to cause skin irritation and burning. If applied excessively, children may become nauseous, have headaches, muscle weakness, shortness of breath or, in some cases, seizures. The EPA says it is “safe” in low doses, but also classifies Permethrin as a likely carcinogen. And if you have a cat at home, know that it is especially dangerous to felines.
A moderately hazardous pesticide, carbaryl has been shown to have mutagenic effects in laboratory rats. This means that it negatively affects how a body’s cells function. According to researchers at the EPA, carbaryl brings a host of health concerns, and is a suspected carcinogen. They say that even short-term exposure can cause central nervous system impairment, nausea, vomiting, bronchoconstriction, blurred vision, convulsions, coma and respiratory failure. You don’t want carbaryl or carylderm in your family’s medicine cabinet.
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
While the risk of serious illness or death from exposure to pesticides found in toxic lice shampoos is low, there is always the outlier. It could be that parents have used a higher dosage, left the shampoo on longer than directed or treated their child more often than the product was designed for. But for one family, just a single treatment of a lindane shampoo was enough to cause irreversible harm and lifelong grief.
This is a case well known to head-lice treatment professionals, but one that not enough parents have heard about: a young boy named Jesse who was diagnosed with acute lymphobastic leukemia two months after being treated with a commonly prescribed lindane shampoo. Sadly, no connection was made at the time between the application of the shampoo and his illness. Fortunately, he responded well to cancer treatment and remained in remission after his chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, after another lice outbreak at his school the following year, his mother again used the same lindane-laced shampoo, only to see Jesse suffer a relapse. His final relapse occurred after a bone marrow transplant, which researchers say was extremely unusual. At this point, doctors suspected an environmental cause -- and the only commonality was the shampoo used shortly before each bout of leukemia.
Jesse’s story is just one of many. Yet sadly, products with lindane are still being prescribed by well-meaning doctors.
A Safer Way to Eliminate Lice
You’ve probably heard of natural remedies to get rid of lice, everything from mayonnaise to olive oil. And while both are non-toxic, they can be messy and far less than 100% effective. Combing can also be effective, but lice and eggs form such a tough bond with hair that they can be very difficult to remove.
For a safer, more effective solution use non-toxic lice shampoo treatments that can kill the insects without any adverse side effects, or make it easier to remove lice. Avoid products with these ingredients: lindane, malathion, permethrin and pyrethrin. If the product, whether natural or chemically-derived, has warnings or noxious odors, reconsider using on yourself or your child. Know that you can remove 100% of your child’s lice and eggs safely by combing if you first use a non-toxic lice shampoo that breaks down the bonds between lice, their eggs and hair. Alternatively, you can utilize the RobiComb electric lice comb for a fast and effective at-home or on-the-go treatment.
Saying Goodbye to Lice
While lice can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, it’s something that you can treat at home safely and effectively. New lice shampoo treatments make it easier than ever to remove 100% of lice and eggs. And in all likelihood, you should never have to use shampoos with harmful insecticides or home-made remedies that are at best inconvenient, and at worst allow lice to continue breeding in your child’s hair.
So if you get a call from the school nurse, there’s no need to panic. Just tackle the problem quickly, and always know what’s in your lice shampoo treatment.
Lice by the Numbers
Young children in the U.S. get lice each year.
10 per day
Number of eggs an adult female louse can lay each day
Time newly hatched lice begin laying their own eggs
- LiceGuard Webmaster