September is Head Lice Prevention Month. I've already discussed the reasons not to use chemicals on your babies' heads as well as what to do instead. I bet you're wondering, though... what about other home remedies?
- Mayonnaise - I've seen this done. You slather the hair / scalp with mayonnaise and cover it for several hours. It is actually pretty disgusting, but I understand the principle. It is supposed to suffocate the lice. I do not, however, believe that you can suffocate nits and "if you don't get 'em out... you've still got 'em!" It is, at least, involve less risk than chemical pesticides. You might even want to leave it in to slick the hair for combing out the nits, but I'll warn you... after mayonnaise sits on a warm scalp, covered, for several hours... it wreaks!
- Vaseline® (or other brand of petroleum jelly) - This carries the same basic principle. I, for one, do NOT want to have to try to wash petroleum jelly out of my child's hair! And even if it does suffocate the lice, you still have to remove them and the nits.
- Tea Tree Oil - This is one I hear a lot in the hippie clusters. However, just because it is natural, doesn't mean it is safe. It is often touted as being safe and natural, but does claim to be a fungicide and bactericide. If it kills organisms, then it must be considered with care. Pure tree oil is contraindicated for babies, young children, pregnant women, and some pets.
I know there is a tea tree product from Australia gaining popularity in the US. There has, however, been a reported case of reaction occurring after application of Australian tea tree oil. Click on "Tea Tree Oil" above for more links on the safety of this "safe and natural" product.
- Other "natural" products - Be aware. If a company or individual refuses to tell you what their product contains or provide studies to support their claims, be leery.
No matter which remedy you're attempting - wrapping the hair in plastic or a shower cap and putting the children to bed is a bad idea. It is also a source of potential harm to use a wrap with any of the pesticide treatments (whether in bed or not) as it may alter it's chemistry and absorption rates.
Effective screening and combing is the ultimate complement to whatever course of action you select. It is impossible to obtain independent scientific data as to the effectiveness and safety on many of the different ideas being circulated about "natural" remedies. Ultimately, it will always be the "parent power" behind the effort that makes the difference.