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Treatment Worse Than the Cure? Why Natural Head Lice Treatments Are Best

Last modified: February 26, 2020. Information verified by President/CEO Maria Botham.

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Lice may not carry diseases like ticks and other pests, but they can be quite a nuisance. It only takes a few lice to turn into an infestation and once lice settle in, they can be difficult to eradicate. Many people turn to chemical lice treatments like Nix and Rid, but these treatments may be worse than the problem itself.

The fact of the matter is that over the counter lice treatments are less effective than they used to be. Not only that, but chemical treatments for lice can actually be quite dangerous. Read on to learn the facts about otc lice treatments, including what works and what does not.

What is the Problem with Chemical Lice Treatments?

Anywhere between 6 and 12 million children in the United States experience a lice infestation each year, causing parents all over the nation to go scrambling for over the counter lice control products. When it comes to head lice treatment, some of the most popular options on the market not only fail to work, but could actually be harmful to children.

For many years, lindane was the best lice treatment on the market, sold only by prescription. Eventually, it was discovered to be highly toxic, linked to cancer, seizures, and death by the FDA. In 2006, lindane was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on crops and cattle, even pets. Shockingly, however, it is still used in prescription lice treatments. In fact, lindane accounted for $10.5 million in U.S. sales for head lice treatment in 2010.

Due to its bad reputation, lindane is less commonly used now than it once was, but other chemical lice treatments remain popular. Pesticides like permethrin and malathion are just as common in otc and prescription lice treatments and they are just as dangerous.

Malathion is a nerve gas derivative commonly used for pest control. It is considered safer than lindane but it is still linked to dangerous health effects as an unclassifiable carcinogen, an asthma trigger, a neurotoxin, and a suspected endocrine disruptor. Pyrethroids like permethrin and pyrethrin are synthetic pesticides that have been banned from food production but can still be used in lice treatment. They have been known to cause muscle paralysis and respiratory failure in addition to being highly toxic to the thyroid and immune system.

What is the Best Head Lice Treatment on the Market?

If you were to ask most parents, they might say that the best head lice treatment on the market is the one that works. Unfortunately, it may not be so easy to find a treatment that is both safe AND effective. Even popular over the counter lice treatment brands like Nix and Rid are becoming less and less effective with the rise of “super lice.”

Super lice is the term used to describe treatment-resistant lice, but what does that really mean? In the same way that many bacteria have become resistant to antibiotic treatments, spurring the rise of “superbugs,” lice and other parasites have started to become resistant to chemical treatments made with insecticides.

According to an article published in The Telegraph, researchers at Southern Illinois University tested over 100 populations of lice. The majority of them showed high levels of genetic mutations linked to resistance to pyrethroids. This explains why lice treatment failure is becoming so common when people use chemical options like Nix and Rid.

Your best bet for lice treatment is to combine manual removal techniques and natural lice treatment products from a trusted source.

What is the Best OTC Lice Treatment?

The key to getting rid of lice is to understand their life cycle and to repeat non-chemical lice treatments as often as needed until the problem is under control. If you are looking for a safe, effective, chemical-free lice treatment, you have a few different options. The first step in over the counter lice treatment is the manual removal of lice and nits – we recommend wet combing.

For this treatment you’ll need a Nit-Zapping Lice Comb and a bottle of Nit-Zapping Clenz Cream. Start by wetting your child’s hair then apply a generous layer of the cream, covering the scalp and working it along the full length of the hair. Using the lice comb, work in small sections, stroking the hair from root to tip, wiping the comb on a paper towel to clean it. Comb each section at least 5 times, checking often for any remaining lice and nits.

The wet combing method is by far one of the most effective non-chemical lice treatments, but it needs to be repeated to work. Repeat every 1 to 2 days until your child’s head has been lice-free for at least 10 days. You can also use Nit-Zapping Clenz Shampoo during that time.

In addition to manually removing lice and nits, you might consider additional natural lice treatment options like essential oils to prevent future infestations. Tea tree oil and peppermint oil are very effective in repelling lice. Nit-Zapping Clenz Prevention Oil contains both of these oils and others, and it can be used two to three times per week to prevent lice.

What Do I Do When OTC Head Lice Treatment Does Not Work?

When over the counter lice treatment fails to work, you may find yourself wondering what options are left. Before you consider extreme treatment methods, ask yourself whether the treatment might be worse than the problem itself. If you are at your wit’s end, consider turning the problem over to the professionals. Find a Hair Fairies Lice Removal Salon near you or schedule a home visit for fast, effective head lice treatment.

When you spot that first louse, your instinct is to get the problem under control as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, most of the chemical lice treatments that promise rapid results are likely to do more harm than good.