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Numerous methods exist for eradicating lice infestations. Traditionally, parents implement a three-step treatment plan to rid the child of lice and clean the home environment. This includes using drugstore shampoo and conditioners to kill the lice, using a lice comb to eliminate nits, and thoroughly cleaning the home, including brushes, combs, bedding, and other shared items.
However, some parents are now opting for natural lice treatment methods. Over-the-counter or prescribed shampoos and other treatment substances contain insecticides that might be potentially harmful to both the child and the environment. For example, some products still contain pesticides that are no longer used to treat crops. In addition, these pediculicides, or products containing insecticides, can have adverse side effects, such as burning and hair damage. Such instances occur mainly in children too young for the products, children with sensitive scalps, and when the product is not properly applied.
Pediculicides containing lindane in particular should especially be avoided. The FDA has black boxed the product because of its potentially dangerous side effects. The product has been shown to have negative neurological impacts, including headaches, dizziness, and even seizures. In very extreme cases, the treated individual requires hospitalization, and deaths due to the product have been reported.
That said, parents are seeking more natural remedies to treat head lice. Before deciding on a natural product, one should research different products on the internet, weighing their pros and cons. Also, a parent should read consumer reviews, which can aid in the decision making process.
One popular natural and pesticide-free method is smothering lice by using household products. Such methods include a vinegar lice treatment, along with mayonnaise, butter, olive oil, and Vaseline. Smothering agents work by covering the lice with the agent, like vinegar. When successfully smothered, the product covers the tiny holes in the sides of lice, where they breathe. In turn, this kills the lice.
Olive oil might be the best smothering agent because others have adverse side effects. For example, mayonnaise has a rancid smell, which may repel small children already upset by the lice infestation. In addition, products like Vaseline are difficult to remove from a child’s hair. Some smothering agents might actually turn rancid if left on the hair too long. While effective, smothering agents can be difficult to administer. Oftentimes, parents might seek professional services to properly use natural and non-toxic methods to rid a child of a head lice infestation.
Although accurate administration is vital, olive oil is the best smothering agent. A treatment plan, using both olive oil and a nit comb, is a proven and safe way to kill lice. Olive oil is relatively inexpensive. In fact, the cheaper, restaurant-quality olive oil is actually the most effective option. Olive oil is easy to remove from the hair, and some consumers even claim that the product conditions their hair, especially after first using pediculicides. However, one must remember that nit combs are necessary. Although a variety of options exist, metal nit combs with long teeth are the most effective option for successfully eradicating nits.
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