While the treatment of head lice has largely relied upon the use of topical insecticides, today parents are looking towards natural home remedies to get rid of lice. With the prevalence of super lice— lice that are resistant to the chemicals found in over-the-counter and prescription lice treatment products— moms and dads are seeking alternative methods. However, there is one giant question looming above lice home remedies— what really works? It is our aim to present you with all the facts and to cover the research and scientific studies on lice home remedies and their efficacy. We’re here to reveal the facts and the fiction. Let the myth busting commence!
Wait, What Are Super Lice?
We did mention super lice rather casually in the introduction, didn’t we? Perhaps it’s best to start there. Super lice are the same as regular lice. There is no difference in their anatomy or in their physical abilities. The only difference between common head lice and super lice is that super lice have genetically mutated to be resistant to the chemicals found in over-the-counter and prescription grade lice treatments.
In a recent scientific study of lice, conducted by John Marshall Clark, a pesticide toxicologist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, confirmed that “two thirds to three-quarters of lice are immune to the effects of these insecticides.”
Since you are more likely to encounter super lice than regular lice these days, it’s probable that over the counter and prescription lice treatment products will be rendered completely ineffective against a lice infestation.
If you want to learn more about Super Lice, you can find out all you need to know by clicking reading our article which covers everything you need to know about Super Lice.
Fact or Fiction — Can I Suffocate Lice?
Does mayonnaise kill lice? What about coconut oil lice treatments? These are popular questions floating around out there about home lice remedies. The idea behind using mayonnaise or another gooey, sticky, thick substance is that lice would suffocate in these gelatinous or viscous kitchen items. So is this lice remedy fact or fiction? The answer lies in biology!
The chair of the Medical Entomology Centre, Ian Burgess, conducted a comprehensive study on lice’s respiratory system. He found that lice have the biological capacity for controlled respiration and can survive without oxygen for multiple hours. How many hours? We’ll mention that in the next section.
Moreover, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) attests that there is currently no “clear scientific evidence to determine if suffocation of head lice with mayonnaise, olive oil, margarine, butter, or similar substances is an effective form of treatment.” <https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs_treat.html >
The experts have spoken! Lice cannot be killed by preventing access to air or by hindering respiration.
Fact or Fiction — Can I Drown Lice?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a quick dip in a pool would be the solution to lice execution? Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy. Lice cannot be drowned. They can survive submerged in water for hours and hours upon end! In fact, a scientific study conducted in 2018 found that “100% percent of tested lice survived 8 hours without oxygen, and 6 hours immersed in water. Many were able to survive under those conditions for much longer.” Another study published in the Parasite Journal in 2018 tested lice’s ability to prolonged water immersion and found that 100% of the tested lice survived after 6 hours of water immersion and 50.9% survived after 24 hours.
Given lice’s unique ability to control their respiration system and survive without oxygen for hours on end it is not feasible that you could drown lice with water or any other liquid you might dream up— not even Listerine or vinegar! Moreover, lice and their eggs (nits) have a protective coating on their shells or exoskeleton that essentially waterproofs them! As studies have shown, “head lice, like all insects, have a protective waxy covering on the epicuticle (outer layer of the cuticle on their exoskeletons) that acts as waterproofing for the insect.”
Fact or Fiction — Can I Burn Lice?
Are you tempted to bust out the hair dryer to try to toast those little pests right to high heaven? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you cannot kill lice using hair dryers or hair straightening tools. As the Center for Disease Control confirms, only a “temperature greater than 130°F can kill both head lice and nits.” To be clear, regular household hair blow-dryers can reach a heat of 150°F at their maximum setting, however it is very dangerous to apply that level of heat to the scalp in an attempt to kill lice. You will burn your scalp! Also, it’s exceptionally unlikely that you will actually kill every last louse and nit on your head, so it’s not an effective home remedy to get rid of lice in any way, shape, or form.
So, what is an all-natural way to get rid of lice at home? Lice Choice. And that’s a fact. Learn more at licechoice.com
Want to learn more? If you want to keep the good times rolling and bust the best lice myths out there click here.