Lice do not discriminate on the basis of hygiene, age, or economic status. Children get these scalp parasites because they put their heads close together or share hats and combs. Lice don’t jump or fly, but they do crawl and spread easily in close quarters like camp or school. And they have developed resistance to common lice shampoos. That’s why many look for home remedies for lice.
Is there a safe and easy improvement on the method of removing head lice? My wife is a kindergarten teacher, and this annual ritual of treating them is wearing us both out. Her students bring lice from home, and they spread to teachers and other students. Please help!
There is one novel approach that is both easy and safe. Dampen the hair, coat it with the facial cleanser Cetaphil, and then use a blow-dryer. Cetaphil hardens and forms a barrier that suffocates the lice. Leave the Cetaphil on overnight, and then shampoo it out in the morning.1
I am a kindergarten teacher, and on occasion I pick up lice from my students. The best home remedy I’ve ever used to kill lice and easily remove nits is coconut oil. I completely saturate my hair with the oil and cover my head with a shower cap. I leave it on overnight and wash it out with regular shampoo the next morning. This leaves my hair silky—and without lice. If the infestation is bad, I do this again a second night. It really works!
Thanks for suggesting this remedy. This is the first time we’ve heard of using coconut oil to get rid of lice, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it would hurt to try it.
Both of my boys were sent home from school with head lice. The checklist given to me by the school nurse stated that in order for the boys to return to school, I must treat their scalps with an insecticide. I used a head lice treatment containing permethrin, and it was completely ineffective. Both children were refused readmission to school, and I was instructed to reapply the insecticide that day (despite the package instructions that treatments should be spaced at least seven days apart).
I took them home and washed their hair, towel dried it, saturated it with Listerine, and covered their heads with shower caps. I left the shower caps on for two hours, and then we removed them and I combed their hair with a lice comb. The next day they washed their hair and toweled it dry, and I sprayed their hair with Listerine and combed it again. The lice are gone even though the infestation was severe. Prior to the Listerine treatment I combed hundreds of lice from their hair. Listerine was much more effective than the insecticide.
There are reports that lice have developed resistance to some insecticides used in lice shampoos. We first heard about using Listerine against lice in 1999. A reader reported spraying it on her child’s head before his possible exposure to lice. A lice expert once told us that she thought the alcohol (26.9 percent) in Listerine was toxic to lice. The herbal oils found in Listerine (thymol, eucalyptol, menthol, and methyl salicylate) may also contribute to the effect.
When my daughters got lice that were immune to all the lice shampoos, a friend said that the health department had told her to smother them with mayonnaise. We covered it with a shower cap and left it on overnight. The mayo killed all the lice, and a repeat treatment a week later took care of the hatched nits. As a nice side effect, the treatment left their hair soft and shiny.
This treatment works on the same principle as coating the hair with petroleum jelly, but mayonnaise is much easier to wash out! We’re glad you had success with this home remedy.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic