The Truth Behind Home Remedies and Over-the-Counter Head Lice Treatments

There are a lot of people who vouch for home remedies and over the counter treatments in combating head lice. In these diverse methods, products are applied to hair, left for a period of time, and then washed away. Even though these treatments are popular among various circles, it has been scientifically proven that these treatments simply do not work – at least not in the long run. Instead of killing the lice –and eliminating them permanently– these topical options only stun them, leaving the nits behind. In addition to being ineffective, over-the-counter treatments can also be injurious to your hair and scalp. The treatments can make your hair dry and brittle, and can act as an irritant on scalp. These treatments may also diffuse into the blood stream via contact with scalp and inhalation. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common home remedies and over the counter treatment options.

Home Remedies

Widely sought after as head lice treatments, home remedies are a far cry from being effective. In this section, we discuss how home remedies work and why they are ineffective.

Oiling and Massaging

Oiling and massaging dates back decades when it comes to options for lice removal. Various types of oils, such as almond oil, coconut oil or olive oil, have been used to try and combat head lice. This method involves massaging the oil onto hair and leaving it over night. People believe that oiling will suffocate and kill the head lice; instead, it only stuns them temporarily.


It may seem like an odd method, but in sheer desperation, people turn to slathering mayonnaise over their hair in order to get rid of hair lice. In this method, mayonnaise is coated over hair, and washed after 3 to 4 hours. This again is an ineffective method because it doesn’t kill nits. Also, it leaves behind a foul smell.

Petroleum jelly

Hair is coated in a thick layer of petroleum jelly, and left for several hours. Some people leave it over night as well. This method is believed to eradicate head lice by suffocating it. In truth, it has absolutely no effect on the infestation. Besides, petroleum jelly is difficult to shampoo out of hair and may leave an oily and greasy residue.

Chemical Treatments

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Parents turn to over-the-counter medications after they have tried everything. However, it has been found that anti-lice chemical treatments, known as pediculocidic treatments, are proved to be ineffective, and even harmful.A report by the Consumer Reports states “There’s no reason for parents to douse their children’s heads in chemicals.” (UrvashiRangan, Ph.D.) Let’s take a look at how these treatments work on hair and scalp, and how they are dangerous to health.


Lindane is an organochloride. This is a category of pediculocide which is usually not suggested as a first line treatment. However, it is included in over-the-counter shampoos and creams. Overuse of products containing this ingredient may have a toxic effect on the brain and other parts of the nervous system.


Malathion is an organophosphate. One of the major side effects of products containing malathion is that they are flammable due to the presence of this ingredient. Therefore, an individual cannot use any heating tools after washing hair with a treatment containing this ingredient. It is best for you and your family to stay away from these ineffective and potentially hazardous head lice treatments. The only effective way to get rid of head lice is to opt for a certified head lice removal clinic like Lice Troopers. Our salon has a step-by-step procedure for removing head lice, incorporating only pesticide free methods and ingredients. To book an appointment, call us today at 1.800.403.5423.