Non-Toxic Lice Treatments

By Tillia Griffin

One day your kids come home from school with dreaded, unwelcome new friends—head lice. For many years we have dealt with lice by using a variety of pharmacological products containing Permethrin or Pediculicides, which kill live lice and their eggs (1).  But due to changes in lice populations and a general push towards greener, non-toxic products, many people are in search of alternative treatments. 

Researchers studied head lice populations in 30 states throughout the country and found that lice in many places (including Oregon and Washington) have developed genetic mutations that make them resistant to the most commonly used pharmaceutical treatments, like Permethrin and Pediculicides (2).  The overuse of a pest control element can lead to natural selection within the species and an eventual gene mutation to help ensure their survival. Luckily, age-old home remedies and progressive scientific thinking have provided plenty of alternative methods for tackling this itchy issue.

Although it sounds harsh, many of these alternative solutions focus on “suffocating” the lice in order to get rid of them. Some people swear by the use of olive oil, mayonnaise or petroleum jelly to drench the scalp, thereby suffocating the lice; however, keeping olive oil or mayonnaise on the head of a squirming child for 8 hours can be difficult. Instead, Dale Pearlman, a dermatologist who teaches at Stanford University, suggests covering the head with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, blow-drying until completely dry and leaving it for 8 hours before shampooing. This process repeated several times may be successful in getting rid of the lice (3).

There are also plenty of ways to cleanse the household during and after a lice episode that are non-toxic and safe. Lice and their eggs are killed by exposure to heat greater than 128 degrees Fahrenheit for more than five minutes, so clothing, pillowcases, sheets, and towels can be washed and dried on high settings in your washer. Combs and brushes can be soaked in hot water and furniture and floors can be vacuumed in order to remove any hair follicles with eggs attached to them. Lice and their eggs cannot survive more than two days without being attached to a person’s scalp.

Overall, the best way to deal with head lice is to prevent them in the first place. We all know sharing is caring, but consider teaching kids not to share hats, coats, scarves or hair items, and ask where your child’s things will be stored at school or camps, making sure their items like hats and coats will not be touching other kids’.

Also, check the school’s policy on dealing with lice to find out if lice information and outbreaks will be shared among parents and whether or not kids have to stay home if they have lice. You can also inspect your child’s hair and scalp, looking for tiny red bumps (lice bites) and white or yellow looking grains of sand (eggs) that may be signs of lice.

Lice are an itchy nuisance, but they don’t carry diseases and they aren’t indicative of being dirty or disregarding hygiene; they’re just another part of the human experience. So remember, when it comes to hair, don’t share.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Living Green Featured Toxics-Free Environments Policy Toxic Free Priorities Water News Toxics in Water Series OEC News/Updates/Events Eco-Healthy Homes Climate Protection Water Action
Sort by

Non-toxic tips to know before you buy furniture

Thanks, KGW! The local news is letting Portlanders know that they can now buy upholstered furniture made without toxic flame retardant chemicals. For decades, furniture-makers who use polyurethane foam padding have had little choice but to soak it in toxic flame retardant chemicals. Now, the law has changed—and it’s easier both to make and to identify furniture that is free of these chemicals linked to memory, learning, IQ, hormonal system and fertility problems. And thanks to a
November 11, 2015, 9:26 pm
jenc

9

Three science mistakes that non-scientists make

post by Jen Coleman I’m a sucker for science. I am inclined to believe it. So when politics and science get whipped into a froth and poured over a debate about protecting health and the environment, I need a refresher on what science can and cannot do. Thanks, UC Berkley’s “Understanding Science” site, for the refresher! http://undsci.berkeley.edu/teaching/misconceptions.php Here are thr
May 27, 2015, 10:33 pm
admin

9

Modernizing the Toxic Free Kids Act

March 9, 2021, 7:26 pm
jamie-pang

0

Photo of firefighter using foam to put out a car fire

Emerging toxics: PFAS in groundwater

By Jamie Pang South, Environmental Health Program Director, and Stacey Dalgaard, Water Outreach Director What is a “forever chemical”? Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS, are a class of synthetic, man-made chemicals that do not break down in the environment and build up in our blood and organs. This has earned them the name “forever chemicals,” and they have now been
September 25, 2020, 5:48 pm
jamie-pang

0

Toxics Lurking in Our Water

Do you ever wonder what’s in your water? The water in our rivers and groundwater isn’t pure H2O. Every water source has different minerals and compounds. Many are harmless or even healthful, but others can be toxic to humans or aquatic life. Some harmful toxics are naturally occurring, like bacteria, arsenic and algae. Some aren’t supposed to be in the river but get washed off our streets and farms, like brake fluid, mercury, fertilizers and pesticides. And some are man-made syn
September 18, 2020, 7:43 pm
stacey

0

Show support for the Toxic Free Kids Act! Sign our petition, please!

Oregon’s Toxic Free Kids Act is a landmark consumer safety and children’s health law that was passed with bipartisan support in 2015. Since it passed, we’ve learned that hundreds of products – like pajamas, dolls, and underwear – contain chemicals scientifically linked to cancer and other serious health conc
January 31, 2020, 2:52 pm
jamie-pang

0

If Our Government Won’t Regulate Toxic Chemicals, It Is Up to Consumer Behavior and Retailers to Drive Change

New Report Reveals Top Retailers Making Major Chemical Safety Advances A new report released this week by Oregon Environmental Council’s partner Safer Chemicals Healthy Families reveals that many of our nation’s top retailers are vo
November 21, 2019, 10:03 pm
jamie-pang

0

Tell McDonald’s: Time to Take off the Toxic Gloves

With great market power comes great responsibility for customers’ health.
October 24, 2019, 8:07 am
chrish

0

Protect Oregon’s drinking water from toxic PFAS: Ask Congressman Walden to designate PFAS as a “hazardous chemical”

Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a category of hazardous chemicals that are currently designated as “contaminants” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  To protect human health, Congress must designate PFAS as hazardous chemicals, which
August 26, 2019, 5:53 pm
chrish

0


No Replies to "Non-Toxic Lice Treatments"