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No Lice Shampoo for MY Daughter

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Here's why.

Momlogic's Julie: When my daughter got lice, I freaked. In fact, I freaked so much, I even wrote a "lice diary" for this website. After that initial round, the lice were kept at bay for a while. But then we found another one on my daughter's head.

God, no.

We repeated the same process again ... non-toxic lice shampoo, cleaning everything in sight. When she got it for the SECOND time, we repeated the process ... but were beginning to lose faith in the system.

I had resisted prescription lice shampoo because it was so toxic. I had read the story of Jesse, a boy who got leukemia after using lice shampoo. His mom is convinced his illness is related.

Lindane (the key ingredient in lice shampoo) has been banned by the EPA. All uses of this compound have already been banned in at least 52 countries, and its use is restricted or banned in most of Europe.

But I have been told by many people that prescription lice shampoo is the only thing that will kill the lice. The problem is: I'm scared this might kill my child. Am I over-reacting, or should I continue to go the non-toxic route if it comes back a third time?

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91 comments so far | Post a comment now
eb January 18, 2009, 5:39 PM

i battled the bugs for years, seems every new school year 1 of the kids would get infected.
i swear by licefreee!
i purchased @ walgreens, comes with 2 bottles and the good metal combs.
from website.
Licefreee! Non-Toxic Head Lice Treatment

Treating head lice doesn’t have to be messy, unpleasant smelling, or potentially toxic anymore. Licefreee! provides fast, effective treatment and is completely non-toxic to humans, though it’s deadly to lice.
they have a where to buy link on website.
not only was this not smelly.little like black licorace, it killed the bugs and you can easily comb out the eggs, it’s like it unglues them.
best of luck, i am so glad those days are over!

vanessa January 18, 2009, 7:04 PM

My Daughter had lice for months because we just couldn’t get rid of them. First we used the over the counter stuff and after that didn’t work twice, we got a script from the Dr. The script was for a wash that was 78% alcohol and burned my red-haired daughters scalp, but didn’t kill the lice. At my wits end, a friend suggested a home remedy, completly cover All hair with mayo and cover with saran wrap. Leave on for as long as possible (at least 2 hours)then wash and comb. We have never had lice again! So don’t feel bad, with as many toxins that are kids are exposed to, anything natural is worth the effort.

Haley January 18, 2009, 7:17 PM

Use olive oil and then wrap the kids head in a bag over night. It works just the same as the expensive over the counter stuff with far less chemicals.

ash January 18, 2009, 8:03 PM

tea tree oil is the absolute best lice treatment. It smothers the bugs and dissolves the nits and eggs. Apply it THICKLY to the child’s head, wrap the hair in saran wrap or a plastic bag (do not put the bag OVER the child’s face, people) and let it sit for at least three hours. COmb it through, and the bugs and eggs and nits will come right out in half the time.

Kellie January 18, 2009, 8:26 PM

I know this is a little after the fact, but I found a couple of good ways to help prevent infestation. First of all, I try to get my kids coats with hoods. This way you can avoid hats as much as possible. My kids know not to share hats, but that doesn’t mean they have never had them grabbed away where they ended up on somebody else’s head. Second, our school still has the old-fashioned coat closets. The kind that have multiple hooks next to each other. I tell my kids to ALWAYS put their coats and extra clothing layers in their backpacks, never hang them with the other kids’ coats. Third, as soon as there is an outbreak, I had my daughter wear her hair up (or back if it is too short) to help prevent hair touching items or people that might have lice on them. Fourth, I heard that tea tree oil shampoo can help prevent lice. While I don’t know if it works, it is a good shampoo anyway, so we give it a try. My kids liked it anyway, so we used it.

One year at my daughter’s school they had a terrible problem getting rid of lice and she didn’t get it once. Every other child in her class except one other had it. Hope these ideas help!

Emily January 18, 2009, 8:45 PM

Hi Julie — please stick with the non-toxic approach! There are a variety of solutions you can try that are not only safer than chemical treatments, but can also be more effective. My family’s business makes one called De-Licer. Over 70 school districts in Michigan currently use it with great success.

De-Licer is an enzyme-based shampoo, which causes no allergic reactions, can be used as often as you suspect your child has been exposed to lice, and is easier to use because it conditions the hair while it works. A big part of beating lice is getting rid of the nits. The enzymes in De-Licer actually break down the glue that attaches nits to the hair shaft, meaning you get to the root of the problem instead of just treating adult lice.

I don’t mean to take up space in your comments with a product announcement… I genuinely hope you continue to choose any non-toxic approach before resorting to a chemical. If I can provide any help, please let me know, and thanks for opening this discussion up to the community on Momlogic!

nands January 18, 2009, 9:36 PM

I live in India and here they say the only way to get lice out is to comb it out. oil your hair every morning, use a very fine comp ( you get special lice combs here ) and pick the nits ( literally search through every strand for the eggs and pick them out with your fingers ). no chemicals, though there is an ayuvedic preparation that they say makes the lice sleepy!

Becky Hughes January 19, 2009, 6:01 AM

As a parent of children that suffer from allergies, I went down the ‘holistic’ path when my children got lice. You apply tea tree conditioner to their hair and comb through using a lice comb, trying to get as many lice and their eggs as possible. Wash their hair using tea tree shampoo, but in the final rinsing add a few teaspoons of vinegar to the water. Lice do not like the smell of tea tree or vinegar. I use the vinegar as a preventative. We also always use tea tree shampoo. My eldest child is 11 and she has not been troubled with headlice since she was 4, using this method.

em January 19, 2009, 10:22 AM

have you tried washing her hair with apple cider vinegar? it’s supposed to work, and i’s at least worth a shot.

Amanda January 19, 2009, 11:50 AM Health/lousebuster/
I used a hair dryer on mild infestations, once with my daughter last year and once with me years ago when I found a few nits in my own hair. I was preganant and my son had slept in our bed while my husband was out of town before I realized he had lice. He was about four and had picked them up at bible school in the summer. So when I saw this article, I felt really smart and dumb at the same time !!! I had missed my chance on a great idea !!!

Tracy January 19, 2009, 12:38 PM

My whole family was infested by lice (we think our 3 year old got it at a movie theatre) and it was a one month ordeal to get them out. I think the combing was the key difference but it takes hours and hours. Be sure to follow package directions so it is safe to your child. Do not repeat too often. Also, when you are combing and picking out the nits, put lice nits in a wet paper towel, in a plastic bag in your trash. Wash all pillows and sheets each morning and don’t let your kids sleep near one another till all the lice is gone.

Anonymous January 19, 2009, 12:45 PM

I don’t think you’re over reacting at all. My little sister recently got lice and my mother refused to use chemicals to get rid of it and opted for safer lice shampoos. You have no idea what chemicals are certain products and how they will affect your body. There is nothing wrong with wanting to protect your children and be cautious.

mamacolby January 19, 2009, 2:48 PM

as a child we always used pine oil on our hair and combed the nits out/ It worled

Chris January 19, 2009, 3:12 PM

my 3 year old niece and her mom just had lice. She combed the nits out of the 3 yr. old, but could not do her own. She called a company that sends out a nurse to comb them out with a super fine comb that actually shreds the nits as it removes them. There are three treatments involved and is guaranteed.

RAMONA January 19, 2009, 3:18 PM


lynn January 19, 2009, 3:45 PM

re lice: dogs and cats do not get them, and they are not fleas, so flea shampoo will not get rid of them. The nits are the key. Pick them all out!!! Vinegar does helps to loosen them. so a good rinse in the “pickle juice” starts you off. Tea tree oil a/w/a rosemary oil help to prevent more nits from being attache. braids for long hair and keep them oiled for 7-10 days. frequent combing (we did three times a day) w/ metal comb to catch the critters that have prevailed and clean all soft surfaces: bedding, coats and cloths, carseats, sofas,and stuffed animals are prime examples in hot water and bag the rest for 10 days minimum. Merlot helps for the tired fingers and crossed eyes from spotting the little bitty nits. Be persistent w/school to check and clean too. Most of all, remember that they are not a sign of social standing.They are a parasite; they don’t discriminate; they want a spot to sit, and won’t go willingly (kind of like in-laws)

Debbie January 19, 2009, 4:17 PM

When my children were small they got lice and once I got rid of it I made sure that the only shampoo and conditioner in the house had Tea Tree Oil in it. I had heard that lice don’t like Tea Tree and will go to the next kid. We used this faithfully and they never got it again even when other kids got it. It is a natural product. I also use Tea Tree Oil on a q-tip swab between my toes to prevent athletes foot. It works.

Michael Unger, M.D. January 19, 2009, 5:20 PM

Pediatrician here…
Lindane is indeed potentially neurotoxic and should only be used when less toxic drugs fail. That said, it is VERY rare to have serious toxicity when used as directed (2 treatments, 1 week apart is best to kill the current crop and the 2nd crop from the eggs you didnt get rid of). I have been in practice since 1992 and have never seen a case of neurotoxicity from Qwell/Lindane and I’ve probably had to prescribe it a couple hundred times.

Most of the home-brewed remedies do not work (or very rarely work), or only work when you spend hours and hours picking through the hair with a nit comb.

Do not be afraid of Qwell if everything else fails; a blackbox warning does not mean the drug is unsafe, just that you should be very careful. if the potential risk outweighed the benefits, it wouldn’t be blackboxed, it would be off the market.

Hope that helps,

M.Unger M.D.

Michael Unger, M.D. January 19, 2009, 5:25 PM

Also, you can ask about Elimite, it is far less toxic than Qwell and works most of the time. It is the drug of choice for kids.

go natural January 19, 2009, 5:52 PM

If you are worried about chemicals go to natural stores, such as vitamin shops. They have a lots of great products. Of course not cheap but certainly chemical free. Tea Tree oil and products are great and have so many uses and benefits! Good Luck

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