7AM - MIDNIGHT | 7/365

Why Over The Counter Lice Treatment is Not Effective: 3 Main Reasons

Why Over The Counter Lice Treatment is Not Effective: 3 Main Reasons
Updated on 
April 27, 2022

Most families have had the experience of helping either their family or someone else’s get rid of lice. Historically, over-the-counter lice treatments were the standard remedy option that most people found effective. However, these pesticide lice shampoos have lost their effectiveness over time, and families are looking for answers and other solutions like lice treatment products from LiceDoctors, but people still use OTC treatments. 


Head lice treatment not working? As we have seen with antibiotic resistance, such as the case with over-the-counter pesticide lice shampoos. When used improperly, in such a way that the lice are not killed, the bugs will become more resilient. One scenario we see often is families not following the instructions provided, ceasing application when the symptoms are gone, but then being surprised a few weeks later with what is most certainly the original case of lice. Over time, these resistant lice breed more resistant lice, etc. Even when used according to instructions, often these products simply do not get the job done. The lice have mutated and are resistant and the eggs have an impenetrable shell. An article in Scientific American reports that one study showed that these chemical products applied once are only 26%, effective about as effective as a placebo.


The same ingredients that are found in over-the-counter pesticide lice removal products are those that are being applied directly to the head to kill the lice. Consider, if this pesticide is killing the lice, what is the possibility that you or a loved one may not experience some ill effects from the treatment? For example, permethrin, a common ingredient in OTC treatments, is a neurotoxin - meaning it kills by affecting the louse’s nervous system. When considering these OTC options, be sure to read the warnings, including the potential side effects, and make an informed decision before bringing them into your home and applying them to your child’s head.

best over the counter lice treatment


Does lice shampoo work? The answer is usually no; your lice shampoo is not working. When considering an OTC shampoo for lice, read the instructions carefully. You will see that you must remove all of the nits from the hair. This is because these treatments do not penetrate the shell of the lice egg or nit. In fact, no lice products penetrate the shell of the lice egg. If the eggs are not removed from the hair, they will start an infestation all over again. This would occur if just 2 nits are left remaining in the hair.


As is the case with OTC products, only occasionally do home remedies work. However, for a treatment option to work, it has to be done correctly - including the removal of all of the eggs and bugs from the hair. That said, in your research of lice solutions, all home remedies you will find include instructions to remove all of the eggs from the hair. This is often the most time-consuming and painstaking step of any treatment that cannot be skipped. Keep in mind that not only do these homemade solutions often fail, but they may also be cumbersome to use (mayonnaise) or, worse, they may have side effects (alcohol), or even worse, they are dangerous (kerosine).


When considering the best over-the-counter lice treatment, it is important to know when your lice treatment is not working. At LiceDoctors, we do not recommend over-the-counter treatments or gimmicky products that claim to get rid of lice with little to no effort. Really, the best solution for head lice is manual removal of everything from the hair, followed up with a plan to address any nits that may not have been visible at the time the treatment is performed. Many families do not have time for this step, especially considering that a moderate case of head lice can include 100 or more camouflaged eggs that have to be found and removed. That is when it’s time to bring in head lice specialists. The professional lice treatment provided by technicians with LiceDoctors includes no shortcuts. Call us or schedule an appointment online to learn how we can help you get rid of lice for good!

We provide a friendly in-home lice removal service

Book your appointment today


No items found.