Updated on June 25, 2020
By Lice Technician, Leila Giles
You may have ruled out chemical lice treatments because you have heard that they often do not work and they may have adverse side effects. Now you are considering an at-home do-it-yourself treatment. What is your best option?
Covering your head with goo isn’t the first reaction for most of life’s challenges. Why is this a recurring theme in lice treatment? You’ve probably heard of people putting mayonnaise and other suffocants in their hair, but do those products really solve the problem?
Why Do We Put Food on Our Heads Instead of Pesticides?
There are differences between commercial lice rinses and the items found in your kitchen. Application of the rinse product found at drug stores claims to poison lice and their eggs. The ingredients found in these can be harsh, and you might feel uncomfortable exposing your family so directly to a pesticide. Unfortunately, these lice treatments have another disadvantage: they are decreasing in effectiveness. The lice today are descended from the few lice who survived past exposure, so they’re hardy and resistant to the once-effective chemicals.
“For years, parents have been buying these non-prescription shampoos and cream rinses. Because the active ingredients have remained the same all these years, new generations of head lice have become immune to them. Once lice become immune, the product no longer works. Scientists call this resistance.” American Academy of Dermatology
Coating methods approach lice from a different angle. A scalp well-saturated with a thick liquid will coat any live insects. This first slows them down and then, with enough time, smothers the lice. It is important to know that this does not destroy nits, the eggs of lice. This tactic requires both repetition and complementary combing to be fully effective.
Nits (eggs) are stuck to the hair strands near the scalp, where they were deposited by a mature adult louse. The outer casing of the nit protects the growing louse inside. Lice have been around since before humans so you can be sure that their survival mechanisms are very good....so effective, in fact, that nothing seeps through the nits. In order to say goodbye to the nits you have to comb and pick them from the hair.
Lice Versus Mayo
Mayonnaise is a popular home remedy, and it’s easily found in many kitchens. It provides the thick consistency you need, but other qualities make it a poor choice. Think about where you keep your mayonnaise—the refrigerator. Lice are resilient creatures, able to hold their breath for up to six hours. For application to smother your infestation, any product needs to stay in the hair for even longer. To be effective, you’re risking rancid food close to your nose and mouth. In addition, store-bought mayonnaise contains lots of ingredients that you’ve probably never tested on your skin before. It could be an irritant. Mayonnaise is also difficult to remove from the hair as it dries and becomes caked.
Olive Oil to the Rescue!
Surpassing other treatments, olive oil contains all of the necessary qualities. We have never heard of anyone suffering from olive oil allergies, so you can confidently apply it to your skin without worrying about a reaction. It’s safe and nontoxic. It coats hair and scalp well without drying out overnight. It won’t spoil. It’s affordable and easy to find at any grocery store. LiceDoctors technicians generally prefer using olive oil as a medium to slow down the lice, suffocate them, and then loosen the nits. With the head coated with this oil, it is then ready for the technician to begin her active combing process to remove lice and nits. She will then finish up that process and begin the final steps, which including washing and drying the hair and then handpicking any remaining bugs or eggs. (Note: that is where expertise is particularly key to lice eradication).
Lice Versus Other Oils
With olive oil as the recommended treatment, it’s natural to assume that other cooking oils should also do the job. While your vegetable or peanut oils are indeed similar, it’s best to stick with the gold standard. Olive oil is safe for most folks, but the same cannot be said for the more common allergens present in soy, corn, sesame or peanut oil. Even if your family doesn’t react, residue from peanut oil might become a problem for sensitive friends or classmates.
Additives can also make other oils less than ideal. It’s easy to find inexpensive products 100% comprised of olive oil. Because vegetable oil can be cheap alternative, it may have a blend of sources or include other filler ingredients that increase the chance of irritating the scalp. And we’re trying to cure itchiness, here!
Treating lice can be an overwhelming experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. LiceDoctors is ready to send a trained technician to your home, prepared to eradicate both lice and their nits. Technicians generally use olive oil approaches which are well tested, safe for adults and children, and guaranteed to be 100% effective. For more information or safe and effective lice treatment, give LiceDoctors a call in Taylorsville and Kearns and all nearby areas at 801-477-4730 .