Alternative Treatment for Head Lice?

Far too many of us have had the devastating experience (OK, that may be a small overstatement) of trying to rid the household of head lice.

This scourge of the school-age years has become harder and harder to treat as the little buggers develop resistance to the old standbys we’ve been using forever.

Standard treatments like Nix or Rid often don’t do the trick anymore, even when we take great care to wash ALL the bedclothes and towels in scalding water, vacuum the furniture like maniacs, and re-treat as instructed.

So more toxic prescription treatments, like  Ovide (malathion, an insecticide), Lindane, Ivermectim, and Elimite — the names alone make you squirm — are becoming mainstays, to the dismay of parents and pediatricians alike.

But now there’s another kinder, gentler option. AND it’s up to 96% effective!

Dale Pearlman, MD, a dermatologist in Menlo Park, CA has studied a novel technique using Cetaphil Cleanser (as reported here in the journal Pediatrics) to coat the hair and kill those suckers by suffocating them. Cetaphil, a mild cleanser intended for use on children’s skin, is easily available at pharmacies everywhere.  It is applied generously to the hair, taking care to cover it completely.

The hair is then blown dry, effectively “shrink-wrapping” each shaft in Cetaphil.  The head can then be covered in a shower cap or other cover, and left as-is for 8 hours (overnight works well), enough time to suffocate every last bug.  After washing the hair, it should be combed carefully to remove the nits (lice eggs), which are not killed by the treatment.

It’s still important to clean clothing, linens, and furniture carefully to avoid re-infestation.  Then, the hair needs to be re-treated a week later to make sure any nits left behind that may have hatched are taken care of.

For step-by-step instructions, follow this post at eHow.

We’re thrilled to have a safe and effective alternative to the powerful insecticides we’ve been forced to get accustomed to, but we sure hope we don’t have to use it anytime soon …

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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One response to “Alternative Treatment for Head Lice?”

  1. Head Lice … Not AGAIN!!

    […] fans of some of the more recent occlusive treatments, so take a look at this recent MOC post for the latest info on that front. Our bottom line with lice? Try to stay calm — they […]

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