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Mayonnaise Lice Treatment: Good or Bad Idea?

Last modified: August 18, 2017

Mayonnaise for Lice

The Rundown

Treating a head lice outbreak at home can feel like an incredibly daunting task, sending families scrambling for solutions. Online searches for home remedies yield hundreds of results, from Listerine to olive oil, all of which are more likely to lead to increased hassle and heartache than yield actual results. Of these home remedies, mayonnaise might be the worst.

Before you decide to turn your child’s head into a tuna sandwich, it is important to remember that when you get lice, there are essentially two things going on at once:

  1. Active, live lice are crawling around causing itch and irritation
  2. Dormant eggs are waiting to hatch

These two stages require different approaches in order to treat lice effectively, and timing is critical. If you take too long with one, you neglect the other and end up having to start all over.

Mayonnaise, along with many other lice remedies, relies on the process of suffocation. Head lice are known to be able to survive without air for up to 6 hours, so it is logical to think that if you leave some form of restricting material on your head long enough, lice will be eliminated. This can work for suffocating active lice, but there are a couple problems with this method, namely a) it takes a long time and b) it doesn’t remove lice eggs (which are strongly attached to individual hair shafts).

Let’s take a closer look at these problems:

Takes a Long Time

Suffocation takes 6-8 hours. That means to eliminate lice using the mayonnaise method, you have to leave it in your hair for eight hours in order for suffocation to work.

EIGHT HOURS.
ON YOUR HEAD.

Ever left a jar of mayo out for eight hours? You wouldn’t even want to throw it away it in your kitchen trash; that thing is going straight to the curbside bin. Imagine leaving it on your hair for that long! Having head lice can be enough of a challenge without also suffering through eggs rotting on your scalp.

Mayonnaise Doesn’t Eliminate Lice Eggs

We really can’t stress this last part enough. This means that even after you slather a quart of Best Foods on your head and let it rot for several hours, the best-case scenario is YOU STILL HAVE LICE EGGS WAITING TO HATCH. You will need to comb out the lice eggs (nits) with a lice comb and cross your fingers that you didn’t miss any.

Insult to Injury

For those of us who like the taste of mayonnaise, there has to be merit to the idea of not wanting to associate something you like (delicious mayo) with something you don’t (head lice). Do you really want to think about head lice every time you make a sandwich for the rest of your life?

Also, there is that little problem with potentially giving your child food poisoning. Mayonnaise left out for more than a couple of hours turns rancid. If one of those strands of hair on your child’s head is accidentally consumed, now you have a child with lice and food poisoning. Fun!

Speaking of Suffocation…
Keeping the mayonnaise on the head requires some form of cap or head covering. Consider that your child will likely need to wear something like that to bed — not a safe situation.

In fact, in February 2015, an 18-month-old child suffocated during treatment:

“Sgt. John Delaney says the little girl’s scalp was covered in mayonnaise and a plastic shopping bag was placed over her head, a common home remedy for head lice. The girl was left unattended and apparently fell asleep, allowing the bag to slip down over her face, suffocating her.” — [ Full Story ]

The Hair Fairies Difference

The Hair Fairies experience is geared toward making your entire experience LESS stressful, not more. Our salons are clean and kid-friendly; you come in with lice, you leave without it. No muss, no fuss.

If you must…
If you feel you have no other options and really want to use the mayonnaise method, we have provided a handy 5-step guide for your convenience:

5-Step Guide for Mayonnaise Lice Treatment

  1. Retrieve mayonnaise from the fridge
  2. Make a sandwich
  3. Return mayonnaise to the fridge
  4. Eat the sandwich
  5. Head to Hair Fairies for proper treatment