Listerine vs. Lice: Why it Doesn’t Work

Do you remember those Saturday morning breakfast cereal commercials for Cap’n Crunch, Apple Jacks, and Froot Loops? The tagline was something along the lines of “part of a complete breakfast.” The ad showed sugar-laden cereals strategically placed next to apples, bananas, grapefruits, and eggs. For some reason, we get the feeling that the cereal wasn’t the ‘complete’ part they were talking about. When it comes to lice removal treatments, Listerine is pretty much the same as breakfast cereals. A lot of people swear by Listerine as an effective lice treatment, but the method usually involves using it in conjunction with a lice comb and vinegar. It’s most likely the lice comb that ends up doing most of the work. Just as it’s the healthy foods that are nourishment and doing the heavy lifting in order for the body to receive vitamins and minerals.

The Lowdown on Listerine

Containing about 21% alcohol, Listerine is a popular mouthwash that’s used for getting rid of mouth bacteria. Listerine may be seen as a convenient and easily available but it’s just not effective when compared to other proper lice remedies. Yet, a lot of people still reach for their bathroom cabinets in search of the product as soon as they suspect an outbreak. To be actually classified as a treatment for something, products are made to go through an extensive amount of testing by the FDA as well as other regulatory authorities. They must also be studied in clinical trials to be proven consistently effectual. Listerine has done that, just not for lice.

The Suffocation Solution

The active ingredient in Listerine that’s considered to be a lice killer is alcohol. Usually, alcohol-based lice treatments rely on suffocation to get rid of lice. While this may sound like a good step, it’s far from an effective, permanent solution. First, let’s talk about the nits. Head lice eggs (aka nits) are coated in a special protective, waxy coating that functions as a waterproofing agent. So if you apply Listerine to your head, it may loosen up the glue that binds nits to your strands of hair a little, but not enough. And it certainly won’t kill them. As for adult lice, while the alcohol present in Listerine may be effective for suffocating and killing lice, it won’t work unless you commit to dousing your hair in Listerine for 2–3 days straight (and that’s a maybe).

Health Hazards Associated with Using Listerine as a Lice Treatment

While it may seem like a convenient and appealing treatment at first, it’s not really advisable, especially not for kids. The alcohol content in it can be easily absorbed through the scalp and into the bloodstream. While that may not be an issue for adults, it can get dangerous for kids. The warning label on the product itself advises that it should not be used by children that are under 12 years of age.

The Alternative

If you’re in search of the best lice treatment nearby, get in touch with us at Lice Troopers. We are an established lice removal clinic that can help you get rid of head lice. Contact us today for more details!