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HEAD LICE

PART 1

See also Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Also

Treating headlice

Headlice Information, remedies and games.

 

This subject seems to have created a lot of interest as it appears to be a world wide problem with no definitive answer.  We have received many different remedies, some more unusual than others, with different things working for different people.

It has now grown to such an extent I have decided to divide the information into more user friendly pages which I hope you will find more convenient.

I would like to stress at this point that I have no personal experience of most of the remedies listed I am just passing on information received from interested visitors.


This page contains many unusual "remedies" which in themselves may cause concern, before embarking on them I am listing some words of caution, the first of which have been received from a Head Lice Consultant -

I am a head lice consultant and treat children and adults for head lice every day. To begin with we tried head lice treatments but found a number of problems.

1. The head lice were not dying from the treatment and continued to breed without any ramifications from the chemicals.

2. Some of the children we treated had devastating side affects to the treatment including asthma, coughing fits, burning, blistering and in some cases scaring not to mention long term health risks.

3. I have found that head lice often feed at the time of treatment and combing is less successful as the louse is attached to the scalp.

Some parents were treating their children every day to try and rid the parasite where others had bought a treatment with their shopping every week for as long as three years.

I then decided to research these chemicals and was horrified by the finding. The NPA reported overwhelming health risk to mainly children and reports of leukeamia became evident.

I then decided to use basic hair conditioner on dry hair. Combing the hair thoroughly and in small sections and removing eggs has given me great success.

I have seen horrific scaring from kerosene, petrol and other poisons even from those sold over the counter.

I have not yet found a chemical or non chemical solution that kills the tiny eggs (nits). I have found up to 900 lice on one child's head and hundred upon hundreds of eggs. without a constant detection program and time consuming combing, head lice will thrive in schools and day care centers for a long while to come.

Chemicals are poisons and not worth risking our children's lives. Before using dangerous harmful chemicals that seep through the scalp and into the blood stream consider alternative non chemical treatments.

Thank you Maryanne Paterson for this information.


A warning regarding the use of products such as Vaseline.  I took a survival course and one of the things that we used for quick fire starting is "Vaseline" (petroleum jelly) soaked cotton swabs.  Just a few sparks from a flint stick and "voila" a fire.  Keep your child's head away from open flames e.g. candles, cigarettes etc.  Also beware, this is a petroleum product that you are smothering your child's head with."

I have to thank Stefan Meyers for the very timely warning.


I have recently heard from two people who have noticed bald patches and/or thinning hair after using two very different proprietary products - one natural, tea tree oil based and the other a more chemical based product.

In view of this I did a little more research and here is my response which I thought may be of interest to others -

 

I must stress I am not expert.

"I was very concerned when I received your message, as only last week I received a similar one from someone a Tea Tree based natural product who was experiencing the same sort of problem.

I have spoken to my daughter who is a pharmacist here in the UK and she has not read or heard of any such adverse affects being recorded nor is she aware of the ingredients of this type of product being known to have these side effects. Having said that there are many factors involved such as other medication being used, child's overall health, product being used correctly etc.

She says that the cheapest and most effective remedy is still, plenty of conditioner, thorough combing with a fine tooth comb e.g. Nit Free Terminator (USA) or Nitty Gritty Nit Free (UK) **** and plenty of patience.

She did, however, mention that there is now a product on the market called "Hedrin" which is said to be quite effective as it suffocates these lice rather than poisoning them.

I have come across the following site which clearly states one such product should not be used more than once a week and not for longer than three consecutive weeks - http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/100001115.html 

It may be a good idea to consult a doctor as the bald patches may be unconnected to the hair treatment.

**** This NitFree comb is sometimes available on prescription from your GP or from any prescribing health visitor, nurse or Pharmacist - It is listed in Part IXA (Appliances) of the current Drug Tariff as the Nitty Gritty NitFree Steel nitcomb with microgrooved teeth.


PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION FROM LISA

I would like to add this to the many head lice remedies I’ve read on your site.  I would like to start by saying that this is something entirely new, which is not toxic, smelly or harmful in anyway to your hair or your health.  It’s an entirely unique approach to snuffing out these hateful little creatures once and for all!  It’s simple, yet the application and procedure IS a bit time consuming.  But for anyone (like me, for instance!) who has done battle against head lice for YEARS, (or even if you are tired of trying this and that and spending money on OTC’s, herbal remedies and even prescription medications that do nothing but make these critters stronger!) this may be the end of the road for head lice in your household.

The product you need to purchase is called Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. (Yes, you read correctly, skin cleanser!)  I have not done the research to find out if this product if available in all countries, but as far as I know it’s available anywhere in the U.S. and can be ordered online from any pharmacy or drug store, and can be purchased at stores in the U.S. such as Walgreen’s, Long’s Drug Store, Walmart, Kmart, Target or any store that carries skin care products.  It comes in bottles of 8 or 16 ounces, and the size you purchase depends on the length and thickness of your hair, or how many heads need to be treated in your household.  It’s a rather thick lotion, almost odorless, and can be used on even the most sensitive skin.  However, it can sting if it gets into your eyes.

Now that you know what it is and what to purchase, here is a list of other things you will need and directions for use:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  • Applicator bottle, such as the plastic bottles hair dye comes in. 

  • A regular hair comb (must be fairly sturdy, as the lotion is very thick)

  • A wide toothed comb (for thick or longer hair, to keep it untangled)

  • A metal lice comb

  • Towel

  • Hair clips for sectioning hair

That’s it!

Method

Start with dry hair and cover your shoulders with a towel. (Cetaphil is very thick so you won’t have much dripping) Use a good metal lice comb to comb out as many nits as possible before you start. Section your hair off in very small sections; it’s extremely important that you coat every strand of hair, and apply the Cetaphil directly to your scalp at each part you make in your hair so that you lessen the chance of missing even ONE louse on your head!  Use Cetaphil liberally and massage, massage, massage it in. Even ONE louse left uncoated may survive to reproduce. 

Once you are sure you have covered every strand of hair and every inch of scalp, use a regular (but sturdy comb) to begin combing out the excess lotion.  You may need to use a wide toothed comb first, if your hair is thick or very long.  Comb until you have removed as much of the excess Cetaphil as possible.  Once that is done, use a hair dryer to dry your hair.  (Use the most powerful hair dryer you have, as the drying process can take up to three times longer than drying after a shower--this is the only really time consuming part of the process, as the Cetaphil takes much, much longer to dry than water.) 

What will happen is that the Cetaphil will dry on your head, hair (and also on the lice), cutting off their source of oxygen, and therefore smothering them.  (In a sense, they will be ‘shrink wrapped’)  Lice can literally survive for hours without breathing, so this must be left on the hair for a minimum of 8 hours.  This can be done before bed, so that the ‘smothering’ process can take place during sleep. You must make SURE that your hair is completely dry in order for the lice to be totally encased in the dried Cetaphil, and therefore be unable to breath.

After 8 hours, wash and dry your hair normally. Use the metal lice comb once again, to comb out any surviving live nits.  For best results, you must repeat this treatment three times in one-week intervals to make sure that newly hatching lice do not survive to begin the hatching and reproducing cycle again. 

All bedding should be washed after each treatment, as well as any clothing, pajamas or towels used during lice infestation.  Combs and brushes should be run through the wash cycle, or can be put in the freezer over night. Carpeting and furniture should be vacuumed, however lice cannot survive away from human heads for longer than 20 hours.  We are their ‘food source’, so there is no need to be overly concerned about lice that have fallen to the floor or carpet.  Lice also can not hop, jump or fly, and are only transmitted via head to head contact, or by using a comb or brush used by someone with head lice.  However, they do crawl, so they may crawl from pillow to pillow or crawl onto clothing that is shared or hung close together, such as sweaters and coats hung up closely together in a classroom. 

I do hope that this will be of help to you, and I look forward to hearing about anyone who has tried this treatment and has had the same success I’ve had!


LICE FREE AND/OR LICE FREEE

There used to be a product called Lice Free but this site is no longer available and it looks as though this domain name may be going to be utilised for very different purposes.  A different product came on the market using the name Lice Freee and this seems to be picking up all the traffic from the original site.  I don't know if there is any connection between these two products.


I have battled with Head lice for a lil over a year with my 5 yr old and my 3 year old and let me tell you I was going crazy. I had cried from frustration so many times and one day I was walking thru wal-mart and I happened to notice a new Lice shampoo called Lice-Freee!!!!! I saw that it was Non-Toxic. 

By this point of time I had tried all those other Lice shampoos and they didn't help at all. I tried the cetaphil cleanser method the mayonnaise method, you name it, I had tried all except this particular shampoo, so I said what the heck why not. I used it and well I am amazed it killed those lil buggers. I felt almost an immediate relief and then I did a follow up with Tea tree shampoo from Paul Mitchell. I now pay more for my everyday shampoo but it has helped keep them away I cannot tell you how relived I am and so are my girls. 

Thank you for your wonderful Website and good luck to all those other moms out there that are fighting the battle of LICE!!!

A. Brewer


You wanted to hear from someone who has tried this. My daughter had head lice which kept coming back. School personnel treated me as if I were incompetent although I am a Registered Nurse and was following all the directions on the Rid and Nix. I learned that some Lice are resistant to these products so I tried Lice Free! Even though my daughter would not wear the enclosed shower cap this product ended our months-long ordeal. It was safe enough to use several times in the first week. Our pediatrician found out that the active ingredient "natrium muriatica" is just common salt. It is sad that so many of us struggle with headlice without seeking advice from others because we are embarrassed. I will gladly recommend Lice Free to anyone who asks.

My thanks to Linda C. for sending in this response


 


Another product on the market that is said to sort the issue in ONE day, with just ONE EASY APPLICATION. 

So how is X.it so effective? 

According to the manufacturers -

Most other head lice products only attack the living louse leaving the eggs in the hair to freely hatch and continue the infestation. X.it treatment packs, on the other hand, attack both the head lice and the nits (eggs) within the hair. This eliminates the potential of further lice hatching amongst the hair thus leaving the hair completely lice free, and with a healthy shine.

 


 

NEW FROM JENNY SCOTT

I read your pages on head lice with great interest and noticed that the remedy I now use was not mentioned so thought I would add it to your list.

My daughter has very thick long hair. Nearly 5 years ago she got a bad case of head lice, I like all your other readers tried everything. Her head was raw from the combing and products I used. Then a friend told me to buy Quassia wood chips.

It is so easy it is unbelievable. You boil the wood chips in water for about 20 mins, drain and use the water as a final rinse when washing the hair. The lice don't die immediately, but not only does it kill the lice but it kills the eggs too. You still need to remove the dead eggs but they don't hatch. Since using the wood chips to clear the lice I now keep a solution made up in a spray bottle. Any sign of nits in the school and a couple of squirts on the hair twice a week is all that is needed. Having done some research it seems the Quassia tree poisons insects and is used as an insecticide amongst other things.

My daughter has not had lice now for nearly 5 years - I passed this on to people that I worked with and became a regular supplier to at least a dozen people as I only knew of one shop which sold it.

Unfortunately the shop I used has now closed down and I have been searching on the internet for a new supplier (which is how I found your site). If anyone is interested I have found a site which sells these - www.dulwich-herbs.co.uk

 

We discovered a Polish remedy called Delacet, which is a mix of lark spur tincture and vinegar, that really seems to have seen off the nits. The greasy things sound too disgusting for words, and I am exhausted from hanging over the side of the bath and combing for nits. Haven't had to for a while now having used Delacet. 

 

I have just been reading your web pages on headlice and felt I must contact you immediately to let you know about a remedy I have used on myself and my two daughters.  It is called Nice 'n Clear and all the details about it can be found on www.lice.co.uk (under the heading of Nice 'n Easy).  The product can be bought at most chemists and health food shops, in particular Holland and Barrett.  The price ranges from between 7.99 - 8.99.  

The main ingredient is Neem Oil, which attacks the nervous system of the louse and also the nits before they hatch.  It prevents them from being able to breed and feed properly.  My daughters and I had headlice for 10 months, and were at our wits end, when we saw this product advertised in a mail order catalogue.  I then surfed the web and the rest is history!  We've now been free of them for nearly a year!  What's more, this product can be put on the hair on a regular basis (every day if necessary) as a preventive measure. 

It's totally natural, and is suitable for people with sensitive skin and medical conditions such as eczema and asthma.  Both my daughters have sensitive skin which was left in a terrible state after having been treated with a chemical product, so I would certainly recommend it to anyone, particularly children.   PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pass this on to your readers, as like me, there must be an awful lot of people out there struggling with this problem, when they don't have to.  

One visit to the above website will give you such a lot of detailed information about Nice 'n Clear, that at first you may think that it sounds too good to be true, as I did, but glad that I gave it a go.  I nearly didn't, as I have tried everything, and I mean everything, and have spent a fortune in the process!  In fact, one of the things I am working on at the moment is passing this info on to schools, GP surgeries, Hairdressers etc.. in my area, and also putting up posters, so that people can get in touch if they're really desperate.  

I'm also going to go to my local newspaper office to see if they can do a piece on it...it's a huge problem and something needs to be done about it...my Health Visitor and the School Nurse just kept dishing out prescriptions for chemical products, which have no effect whatsoever!  Wet combing hair with lots of conditioner does help, but it is so time consuming, and doesn't always get them all out....you only have to miss 2 or 3 lice and you're back to square one again!  Another thing that a lot of people don't realise is that some of the products on the market are alright for people with fine or thin hair, but my eldest daughter has extremely thick hair, which makes treating the problem all the more difficult.  In fact, just before we discovered Nice 'n Clear, she opted to have her hair cut really short as she was getting so fed up with having to stand for hours on end getting it combed, and then there's the constant itching, and finally the late nights by the time the combing was finished...combing thick hair can take a long time!

Anyway, I hope that this letter can give hope to other people who have found themselves in this same situation...having headlice isn't a life threatening condition, but can be very distressing nonetheless, especially for young children.

Mrs. Amanda Livingston

At the end of November I received the following message from Elizabeth Grant, singing the praises of a product called Follicel -

"With reference to headlice treatments.I gave up long ago on otc products because of the toxins and chemicals causing side effects.I used mayo, vaseline and a few other old so called remedies. .But they were messy and didn't work.6 weeks ago I was recommended Follicel.  It is 100% all natural I bought a bottle and was delighted when it only took 20 minutes to work. My two girls have now been free from headlice for 4 weeks and I use Follicel every third or fourth day as I have found it works as a repellent."


By a very strange coincidence a few days later I was contacted by the manufacturers of "Follicel" as follows:-

"My particular attention was drawn to your section dealing with headlice and some of the very unorthodox and bizarre attempts to clear headlice. My company markets an all natural product which I will refer to later. I am appalled by what some mothers are using on their children's hair if they used it on their household pets the RSPCA would have them in court in an instance charging them with animal cruelty. The following points should be made for parents to act upon

(1) 99% of all otc products contain toxins and or chemicals

(2) Most of these products in fact all of them do not kill or remove headlice totally they may kill one or two  it is the wet combing with a proper nit comb which removes the lice dead or alive.

(3) So called treatments containing toxins and chemicals do have side effects and in the USA at the present time there are a number of class action suits taken by parents against the largest manufacturers of these products. These actions are being taken because manufacturers claims have proven to be worthless, childrens have suffered side effects some of which were very serious, families were involved in continuing expense of cleaning, washing and replacing bed linen, hats, scarves and other items. So what is the situation here in the U.K. we have consumers purchasing products which promise results when they don't the consumer buys another product and another product and so on and then when they have reached desperation point they try using old fashioned methods and quite bizarre ones at that.

The consumer must exercise their power and they do have it although most of them don't realise this or can't be bothered to make waves.

(1)If a product doesn't work DON'T throw it in the dustbin, TAKE IT BACK to point of purchase demand a full refund on the cost

(2)Complain to the local trading Standards Officer

(3)Complain to the head office of the store where you purchased the product if it is part of a Chain

(4)Complain to the Advertising Standards Authority

(5)Tell your friends that the product is useless and not to purchase it.

It is time that the British consumer made themselves heard and used the purchasing power that they have got but which has been lying dormant. WAKE UP BE HEARD DON'T BE TREATED LIKE IDIOTS BY THE MANUFACTURERS OF PRODUCTS THAT DON'T WORK!

June, my company markets Follicel you can take this section out if you wish it is not my intention to use your website as a platform for our product. And we amassed a tremendous feedback of information from visitors; they have told us heartrending stories about the failed attempts to eradicate headlice and the suffering that a lot of their children have been put through unnecessarily.

Consumers have been dealt with in a cavalier fashion by manufacturers and suppliers for far to long it is time to rebel!"

After receiving this message I contacted them again to clarify a few points, particularly, In view of their remarks concerning taking products back which do not work, I asked them if they would allow the return of the product if it did not work, their response was as follows -

"Thanks for your reply. The particular subject of "Headlice" is one that effects 80% of parents at any one time and it can be very costly not only when they try all the otc products with no satisfactory result at the end. And then the cost of laundering bed linen and other items of clothing. Then the biggest factor is when the child is excluded from school attendance if both parents are working, one of them has to take time off from work which can in itself be costly if they do not have an understanding and sympathetic  employer.

I will now answer the questions you have raised.

(1) The product is only available from our site on the net or by calling our office during normal trading hours and purchasing can be made by either credit or debit cards.

(2) 90%-95% of Follicel sales worldwide are through our website there are a small number  of other sources in South Africa and one in Canada.

(3) From the first day we started marketing Follicel we informed people that we would refund the full purchase price if it didn't work. So far only one refund has been made in the U.S.A. and we discovered afterwards that the parent had not followed the usage instructions to the letter.

I shall gladly answer any other questions you may wish to ask!

About  a week before I contacted you we had a desperate mother call us in absolute desperation, her daughter had been continually infested with headlice for 6 months and the mother had purchased and used every available "Head lice treatment?" she could find. NOT ONE PRODUCT was even remotely  successful she purchased Follicel and called us some 4 days after she had received the Follicel she was in tears it had worked as we promised and there was not a louse to be found in her daughters hair.

I have no personal experience of this particular product but it may well be worth a try, it would appear you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

About Follicel

I used Follicel after reading comments in this website and after carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions found that it was as useless as any other over the counter remedy. I notice that nowhere is the product claimed to kill lice, but rather to ‘facilitate combing’. Almost no lice were removed and they could be seen on the scalp happily going about their business straight after treatment. I am still waiting for a reply after returning the product for a refund.

Electronic lice combs are not much good either. A few lice get caught, but there are always plenty more where they come from, so I found it a losing battle.

By contrast I have found the conditioner treatment to really work. I used one that had tea tree oil, but it probably wasn’t important. Dampen the hair with a spray or wash and towel dry well. Apply the conditioner liberally and work well down to the scalp. Leave a few minutes and comb out well with a good quality steel lice comb, starting at the ends so as to remove tangles and working right up to the scalp. The comb should follow the scalp firmly all over the head and each stroke should pull straight through the hair. (Don’t remove the comb from the hair mid-stroke). Wipe off the conditioner on tissue. The first time I used this treatment two hundred lice were removed and that seemed like almost all, if not all, of them. It seems the things just can’t hold on and get all gummed up in the conditioner. The eggs are not removed however, so repeat the treatment at two day intervals. I used three treatments over four days and have just had a follow up session a week after the last application – result? My kids are louse free.

These observations have been received from John Speight

 

Barb Stolar knows only too well the trials and tribulations caused by head lice and, like myself, feels a bit of humour can help a lot in any stressful situation. With this in mind she has adapted the well known poem "Twas the night before Christmas" and has kindly given us permission to reproduce it in the hope it may bring a smile to other faces -

CHRISTMAS 2001 AT OUR HOUSE

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the OUR house….
Not a creature was stirring…not even a louse.
The stockings were NOT hung by the chimney ….. WE DID NOT DARE!
In hopes that two weeks in a black plastic bag would be their best care.

The children were nestled all snug in their freshly sprayed, vacuumed, and laundered bed,
While freshly hatched nymphs, danced on their heads.
And mamma in her olive oil and I in my Mayo and shower cap
Had just settled down, totally exhausted from this crap!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the freshly decontaminated bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tore off my sticky shower cap and threw up the sash.

The liquefied mayonnaise on my chest, white as the new fallen snow
Got in my eyes and ran to other objects below,
When what to my watering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny FLEA infested reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Saint NIT,
More rapid than eagles his courses they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called each mangy one by name.

"Now, Dandruff ! Now Louser now, Nymph and Nix,
On, Lice-Meister, on, Rid on, Itchy and Picks!"
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away ALL!

He was all dressed in fake fur, from his head to his foot,
And his beard was all covered with a funny white dandruff-like, nitty looking soot,
A bundle of stuffed toys he had flung on his back,
I ordered him to spray and seal it for at least two weeks before he brought ANY of THOSE toys back!

He was cheery and plump a right HAIRY elf,
And I cringed when I saw him in spite of myself,
A wink of the eye and a twist of his infested head
Soon gave me to know I had EVERYTHING to dread!

He spoke not a word and went straight to work,
He looked really offended when I called him a "louse infested jerk"!,
And laying his nit comb aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He huffed to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND GET RID OF YOUR LICE!


As I have said this subject provoked many responses and from the replies received it would appear that head lice do not like greasy things, whether it be Vaseline or mayonnaise!  Perhaps hair gel is not such a bad idea after all eh Mums!

 

 

IMPORTANT - Hints and Things does not necessarily endorse or recommend any or all of the suggestions contained on these pages.  We would never recommend the use of pet shampoos, kerosene, etc., especially on children.  They may well get rid of the lice but can be dangerous and may call health problems in the future. Professional advice should be sought before use.

 

 

See also Parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Also

Treating headlice

Headlice Information, remedies and games.

 

 

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