Does Lice Shampoo Kill Lice?

woman's head leaning back in a shampoo bowl getting washed

We are often asked about ways to kill lice at home. To be more specific, we are generally asked why the OTC lice shampoo treatment that the person used did NOT work.

Five Myths about OTC Lice Treatment Products:

Here is a typical scenario: you see a bug crawl out of your child’s hair and after your heart sinks to the floor, you do a closer look and you see the dreaded head lice infestation. Another scenario is you are minding your own business working at the office or at home and the phone rings; it is the school nurse informing you that your child has just been diagnosed with head lice. These are common scenarios that affects a reported 6-12 million children annually.

Many parents get the news and dash out to the local drug store to purchase a lice shampoo. About a week or two later, we receive a phone call from the frustrated parent telling us that despite treatment with a chemical lice product, their child still has head lice. How can this be? Unfortunately, many parents have mis-information about OTC lice shampoos. We will debunk common myths:

MYTH 1: OTC Head Lice Shampoos Kill Lice

Lice are very resilient. They have been on this earth for literally millions of years. They have the ability to mutate every few years. What this means is that the bugs change in reaction to any chemical product that is applied. A product may be effective for a while, but eventually it loses its effectiveness. That is what has happened with existing lice products. If you Google “super lice”, you will see that these strands of lice have been found in almost every state of the union.

MYTH 2: Lice Treatment Products Can Destroy Nits (Lice Eggs)

Nits have a hard shell that makes it impossible for chemical products to get through to the baby bug growing inside the egg. Lice shampoos will do nothing to kill the eggs that house the bugs. As long as there are viable nits in the hair, you still have an active and growing infestation.

MYTH 3: OTC Lice Products are Safe for Everyone

We have had clients report to us that upon using the chemical products they had negative reactions ranging from headaches to nausea to asthma. In addition, we don’t know what the long term effects are so why take chances? Chemicals are usually contra-indicated for young children and pregnant women so again why take chances?

MYTH 4: Using the Lice Shampoo Several Times Increases its Effectiveness

Using the same product several times will not make it more effective especially when it is attempting to kill bugs that are resistant to it. Using strong chemicals over and over on a young person’s head is not only ineffective, it also is potentially toxic.

MYTH 5: OTC Head Lice Treatments Work to Prevent Lice Infestations

Absolutely not. Do not use these products to prevent head lice because they are not designed for that purpose and you will be unnecessarily exposing your family to potential toxins.

TRUTH: The Best Way to Get Rid of Lice is to Comb and Hand Pick

With head lice eradication, there are no short cuts. You need to immobilize and comb out the bugs and then get busy picking out the remaining nits. This takes patience, proper tools, and the more experience you have, the easier it will be to clear out all vestiges of an infestation. If you need help, call LiceDoctors at 352-562-0827 and a lice treatment expert will be at your home on your schedule to treat you completely and effectively…without chemicals!