A common remedy families ask about is the method of using Listerine to kill lice. Many parents tell stories about relatives who have claimed people swear by using a Listerine lice treatment as a permanent solution to treat lice, and they wonder if it's a reasonable solution for treating lice at a low cost. Before dumping Listerine or another mouthwash on your hair and scalp, it's important to consider the facts. Listerine will not kill head lice and nothing penetrates the waxy coating of lice eggs (nits).
INGREDIENTS IN LISTERINE
Listerine is the brand name of a mouthwash that is made up of herbal oils, water, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavoring, and coloring. Often, clients claim that blue Listerine for lice treatment is best, others swear that brown Listerine lice treatments are the only one that suffocates lice. Some clients think that the alcohol content in Listerine is what kills the bugs and they ask does alcohol kill lice? The fact is that, outside of the coloring used in the solution, there is no difference among the different colors of Listerine for lice and alcohol does not kill lice. But does Listerine kill head lice?
DOES MOUTHWASH KILL LICE?
Among the suggestions on how to use Listerine in eradicating head, lice are to try suffocation. Some believe that a combination of the fumes from alcohol in Listerine and the essential oils (thymol, eucalyptus, menthol, and methyl salicylate) can suffocate lice. Others swear that soaking the hair and scalp in Listerine and securing it with a shower cap will effectively drown lice. This is in addition to claims regarding the negative effect alcohol in Listerine may have on live bugs. These claims are simply not true.
Listerine contains a mixture of essential oils (like methyl salicylate) that are known to repel or discourage lice infestations on their own, but outside of being bothersome, these herbal oils will not kill lice. This is simply not an effective way for Listerine to kill lice. To answer can you drown lice with Listerine or not - consider that head lice can hold their breath for 6 hours in addition to the fact that alcohol evaporates much more quickly than water. It would be impossible to keep all of the hair and scalp, including the hair shaft or hair follicles adequately saturated long enough for it to have any effect on lice, even if you wear a shower cap.
If you've come here looking for instructions on how to treat head lice with Listerine, we hope we have not disappointed you by asserting that using Listerine to treat lice does not work. As the incidence of super lice increases, families continue to look for home remedies that will get rid of lice. Unfortunately, mouthwash is not effective at killing adult lice. Effective lice treatments will work to kill the live bugs and remove nits present in a lice infestation as a first step. Attempting to treat head lice with Listerine will not prove effective when attempting to eliminate lice or get rid of a lice infestation.
CAN LISTERINE KILL LICE EGGS?
During effective treatment of head lice, more than the live bugs need to be addressed. All of the lice eggs (lice nits) need to be removed from the hair. Some claim that Listerine helps when treating lice by either killing the nits (eggs) or helping to dislodge nits from the hair shaft, thus aiding an attempt at lice removal. The truth is, nothing is strong enough to penetrate the waxy coating on the shell of the lice egg. Inside of the shell is the baby bug that will continue to grow until it hatches. If these nits are not removed as they lie dormant prior to hatching, your effort to treat lice will fail. These bugs, when hatched, will start an infestation all over again.
HOW CAN YOU USE LISTERINE FOR LICE?
The methods for home remedies vary, but, as is the case with Listerine, you'll find virtually every time that the success behind these home remedies isn't necessarily the product that is used, like a lice shampoo; rather it is the treatment as a whole, including follow-up to remove nits, that is effective to treat lice. If you are having trouble getting rid of head lice yourself, before resorting to such drastic home remedies that have not been proven to be safe and may cause scalp irritation, such as using Listerine to treat lice, consider contacting a professional lice removal service.
The conventional process that some have used to treat lice with Listerine involves a multi-step process. As suggested previously, outside of soaking your hair and scalp in a number of chemicals that have not been proven to be safe, the primary function of the treatment that works is the combing process to remove eggs (nits) and head lice and prevent reinfestation using natural repellents like tea tree oil. Remember, we do not advocate this plan and much prefer to use an effective and safe product like olive oil. Some folks use petroleum jelly or coconut oil, but again our medium of choice is olive oil.
- Soak your hair and scalp in Listerine and cover with a shower cap.
- Allow the Listerine to sit for 2 hours.
- Rinse the hair with a mixture of water and vinegar.
- Leave the vinegar on the hair for 2 hours.
- Using a nit comb, comb the hair starting at the scalp and base of the hair follicle and comb the hair.
- Comb your hair with the nit comb until no more bugs or nits are coming off of the hair.
- Wash your hair.
- Use tea tree oil to discourage lice re-infestation.
- Repeat the process every 5 days to get rid of nits and bugs that may remain.
DOES LISTERINE KILL LICE ON FURNITURE?
Seeing as how Listerine is not effective at killing lice on the head, it would be reasonable to expect that it would not be effective on furniture. This is correct. So what should you do regarding the furniture? Nothing. Lice on furniture do not need to be killed because they cannot survive in or on furniture for more than 24 hours as they are separated from their food source - blood from the human head. If you are too worried about bugs or eggs on the furniture to waiting, then use a vacuum or lint roller to pick up any errant remnants of the case.
IS LISTERINE HARMFUL AND WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
Used as directed for mouth washing, Listerine is not harmful. However, when any product is used in a way that it is not intended to be used, there are risks involved. In this case, there could be undesirable effects of using Listerine.
While you likely would not intentionally use Listerine in your eyes, since it is a liquid, it can easily flow down the head and onto the face where it can make contact with the eyes. This can cause pain and damage to the eyes.
On the active ingredient list of Listerine is alcohol. Alcohol in Listerine is meant to be an antiseptic. If alcohol in Listerine is ingested, just like any other alcoholic beverage consumed in excess, it can lead to intoxication. Drinking Listerine will not kill head lice.
ALLERGY AND CHEMICAL BURN
When choosing head lice eradication methods, it's important to consider the individual being treated. If you attempt to treat someone with Listerine who has an allergy to one of the ingredients, you may activate an allergic response. Additionally, alcohol left on the skin for an extended period of time may cause a chemical burn.
DAMAGE TO THE HAIR
Listerine is very drying owing to the alcohol content. When you pour it on your strands you will likely experience a problem with dry hair. There are better options that do not harm your hair.
WHY HOME REMEDIES FOR LICE ARE STILL SO POPULAR?
Many people seek home remedies for lice when chemical treatments, like lice shampoo, that worked in the past prove to be ineffective. As these chemicals become less and less effective, these families look for alternative solutions to head lice, like how to get rid of lice with vinegar and Listerine or what suffocates lice? Additionally, some families will look for these alternate solutions in an attempt to save money. There are some lice remedies that may work, however, there are more simple treatment options that are effective.
At LiceDoctors, we appreciate when families do their research prior to treating head lice. While bogus DIY treatments can be found all over the internet, we are happy to offer a lice removal service to clients all over the United States that we know works. The removal process provided is all-natural, safe, and effective. To schedule your appointment, or to learn more, call us at 800-224-2537.