HeadLice.Org Hot Spots

These lice treatments are safe and cheap
Monday November 11, 2002
Joan Bruder

This is regarding the Oct. 25 article, Louse House Helps Probe Why Treatments Don't Work.

Parents across North America spend millions annually on lice shampoos. Looking for the quick fix promised by manufacturers and physicians, most parents don't realize these products are pesticides, just like roach sprays, rat poisons and weed killers. By definition, pesticides are poisons and can be dangerous even if used as directed. Researchers are warning that many of these chemicals pose serious human health threats, including skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, tingling sensations, allergic reactions, asthma and blood damage. Children have been found to be at greatest risk. The chemical lice treatments being massaged into your child's scalp are toxins and will enter their blood stream.

The real question here is not why the chemical shampoos are no longer working (everyone knows insects will build up a resistance over time), but why aren't we using natural alternatives which are more effective, since the lice never build up a resistance to them? The answer, of course, is money. Selling lice shampoos has become big business and big business has lots of money for advertising.

There are real alternatives out there that work and cost little. Non-toxic treatments include: coconut oil or olive-based shampoo (without conditioner), bar soap or pure coconut or olive oil (these oils kill lice by smothering them); tea tree oil; a solution of 50 per cent vinegar and 50 per cent mineral oil. Simply shampoo your child's head with this solution, cover with plastic for one hour, and then comb out the nits.

The most important part of stopping a lice problem is removing the nits. This step cannot be avoided even when using a toxic lice shampoo.

There are simple, safe and effective alternatives to treat lice. Please, for the sake of our children's health and well-being, let's start using them.

Joan Bruder
Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence

© The Record - Ontario

NPA Response...

Dear Editor:

We applaud Joan Bruder's letter on "lice treatments are safe and cheap." Bruder accurately emphasizes the bigger picture and the need to seek better ways including the vital component of removing the nits.

In fact, Bruder's comments would have been downright perfect were it not for the paragraph recommending alternative treatments to smother lice. Her suggestions offer parents safer choices than pesticides, but the promise of total safety and effectiveness at killing lice and loosening nits may be tough to live up to.

Still she takes appropriate care to summarize by reminding readers that, "The most important part of stopping a lice problem is removing the nits." We would like to elaborate on that premise, recommending lice combing as the starting point. Routine screening with an effective lice and nit removal tool allows parents to get "there" when "they" do and manually remove the lice and nits. The only alternative may be to add a basic conditioner to help with combing when hair is exceptionally thin, thick or long.

The NPA and it's No Nit Policy encourages early intervention. The goal is to shift the emphasis from killing lice and nits, to the benefits of manually removing them as soon as possible, ...when they are few in number and without unnecessary expense to health, family life, school attendance or pocketbook. Consider it IPM, Integrated "Pediculosis" Management.


Deborah Z. Altschuler


-- send this page to a friend --

The National Pediculosis Association,® Inc.
A Non-Profit Organization
Serving The Public Since 1983.

The National Pediculosis Association is a non-profit, tax exempt
organization that receives no government or agency funding.
Contributions are tax-deductible under the 501c(3) status.

© 1997-2009 The National Pediculosis Association®, Inc. All images © 1997-2009 The National Pediculosis Association®, Inc.