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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
Stacey January 19, 2009, 7:40 PM

My 3 girls had lice last summer and it was a horrid ordeal, my oldest got it from when she spent the night at a friends house and brought it home to my younger 2 girls, after using the OTC product twice and hours of going through all 3 of their heads and still having lice, I did some research on line, and found a way that worked wonderful the first time and we never had lice again. I went to wal-mart and bought their version of listerine, and some of those plastic hair caps, your pour the listerine all over their hair and wrap in a plastic hair wrap for about 2 hours, rinse it out (you will see the lice fall out of their head while you rinse it out, they will be fried and all black) then pour vinegar over their hair and wrap again with a plastic cap for about a half hour (this losens all the nits off the strans of hair) after about a half hour rinse the hair again and comb through with a lice comb (get a metal comb, not the plastic ones) keep a cup of hot water near you and after a few strands rinse the comb off in the hot water you will see the lice and nits just fall off the comb, after all that is complete wash their hair with Denorex shampoo (its a shampoo for dandruff. WASH EVERYTHING in your house in the hottest water possible add some lysol and vinger to the wash and make sure you dry completely on the hottest dryer setting, after doing all this we never saw another lice, it’s almost 2 years, thank God!

Becca January 19, 2009, 7:53 PM

I have tried both over-the-counter and homemade remedies in the past. The homemeade (olive oil, baby shampoo & teatree oil) was by far the best. I also recommend using a good metal-tooth comb instead of the cheap plastic ones. My older daughter even chose to use hair color instead of the other options and it seemed to work fine.

Colleen January 19, 2009, 9:56 PM

After MANY battles with lice on my two daughters (one of which has very curly hair) my doctor prescribed Bactrim, which is actually an antibiotic more commonly used to treat a urinary tract infection. Since prescriptions stay in your body longer, there is no need for any second shampoo treatments or several nights of mayo in the hair. I did not have to use another “treatment” method, and within a day or two my kids were no longer itching. Bactrim worked when the olive oil, mayo, over the counter Nix, etc, did not work - trust me, I tried them all! Every doctor is different, and while my neighbor’s pediatrican would not prescribe it for her kids, just google this, see the results and ask for it. The “potential side effects” are no more than what you see with any other prescription advertised on tv or than what you read on the prescription bottle you bring home for an ear infection.

sue January 19, 2009, 10:00 PM

smother with cetaphil(gentle soap that cost 10 dollars for the bottle)the metal comb goes thru this the best.Mayo,olive oil,veg oil,lotion are also non toxic items, comb pick out nits, keep up for missed nits

IA January 19, 2009, 11:31 PM

The first time my daughter was infected with lice a used the OTC treatment but did not like it. The next go around both my daughter and son were infected. I found at Wal Mart (can’t remenber the name) A battery operated lice comb. It worked wonders. No bad smells.

Nancy January 20, 2009, 12:09 AM

The battery operated comb is called a Robi Comb and it is TERRIFIC. Zaps the louse with an electric current that kills it, traps it in the metal teeth of the comb, so you can pull it out of the hair and remove it. It buzzes when you turn it on, and stops buzzing as soon as it zaps a louse, so you know you’ve got one to remove. I used it on my daughter the morning after treating her w/ Nix for the zillionth unsuccessful time, only to find her head crawling with dozens of live adult lice—so obviously the OTC crap is worthless—toxic to everything but the lice!! It’s important to try to do the nit-picking, yes, but don’t make yourself blind in the process. Just use the Robi-comb for several days over the course of the next couple of weeks, and any new lice that hatch (from nits you might have missed) will be trapped, killed and removed from the head—before they have a chance to lay more eggs. Eventually you will get them all. And don’t make yourself nuts washing and vacuuming everything in sight—that’s just a ploy the OTC drug folks came up with to make us think it’s OUR fault we didn’t get rid of the lice. “Oh, you must have missed one crawling around on the living room carpet, so that’s why they ‘came back.’” They “came back” because they never left in the first place, since their products didn’t work!! Just ask all the people in Texas, Virginia and California involved in class-action lawsuits against them!

Shirley January 20, 2009, 1:46 AM

I’m a mom of 5 children and 13 years of Daycare in my home.
Tea Tree Shampoo works, it is a little more expensive but it does not take much to shampoo (a little goes a long ways). It will make the hair squeaky clean so you can pull out all the eggs, you can continue to use your old shampoo after about a week or two.
I used it on my children whenever there was an outbreak in my Daycare and only a couple of my children caught it through out the years :)
You do have to clean your house thoroughly, vacuum everything and after you do throw the bag out in the trash, wash all the clothing and pack away all the stuffed animals in a garbage bag until there is no longer any Lice.
Head Lice has built an immunity to the Lice shampoo and it is a waste of your money :(

Anette January 20, 2009, 8:49 AM

Last summer my children got the dreaded note from school that there is lice in the school and all the kids should be checked. Well, my 7 year old daughter, with hair down to her waist, of course was one of the poor kids that got infected.
After trying everything available, and brushing her hair daily for hours with the special comb, mayonnaise treatment, olive oil treatment… I was going off my rocker…
Then I found a posting on a South African website - to use Bergamot essential oil in their shampoo. You just pour the little bottle of oil, into an entire bottle of shampoo. Now every time we wash their hair, it smells wonderful, like orange. And for 9 months they have both been lice free… and the next time we received a note from school, my kids had nothing.
Not sure how it works, but somehow it prevents lice from returning, and it is completely “kid-friendly”.
After speaking to a pharmacist friend, I was told that it is also suggested for people that loose their hair. So, now they have healthy, shining, thick hair.

Karen January 20, 2009, 9:04 AM

I do nto think you are overreacting.

Many here have mentioned steel tooth combs etc and the best I have found is called the NitFree Terminator which I bought online at and they also have a few other chemical free products in the NitFree line at that website.

Chemicals are absorbed through the skin so I choose to use non-chemical solutions when I can and this is one time when I can with success.

Our kids deserve better than us pouring chemicals on their head. The non-chemical approach with a good comb may take a “little” more time but I think it is the right answer.


RC January 20, 2009, 12:58 PM

Use lemon juice, I have three daughters who had very long hair it works great. You still want to treat couches,seats, wash all bedding & put pillows and stuffed toys or anything you can’t wash into plastic garbage bags for 10 days to 2 weeks. I used real lemon concentrate, you will need a large bottle, apply to dry hair.

Concerned Parent January 20, 2009, 3:49 PM

It’s the nit removal that works, as much as a pain as it is to do, but, well worth it. I used a homeopathic product that worked well, named Licefreee, yep, with 3 “e”s.

concerned mom January 20, 2009, 4:48 PM

So glad so many parents are well informed regarding the dangers of some lice treatments and are using natural treatments.

Very concerned what Dr. Unger wrote regarding lindane. The FDA states on its website the following “The FDA recommends only a single treatment with Lindane. This is because of the risk of serious side effects and even death when Lindane is applied too early the second time. It is not known how soon after applying Lindane that it is safe to apply a second dose.”

Dr. Unger I am glad that you feel none of your patients have not been harmed by lindane, but do you really know this? People have shown up to emergency rooms or their own doctor with various complaints and are NOT asked about any dermal product they might have used.

As you know many drugs are out there that are causing more harm than good, and we don’t find out about it until it becomes national news.

Not “attacking” your statement, just concerned that some in the health care field are not up to date on current medication issues, and many are very much influenced by pharmaceutical companies.

Kelly January 20, 2009, 5:18 PM

I have a solution to the head lice problem. I have 4 children all with LOTS of hair. Even my littlest who was only 2 got them also. I tried all the shampoos and the combs UGHH they kept coming back and back and back again. We later found out it was one of my daughters feinds brining them back in the house. BUT what I did is this…. I put mayo on their heads covered them with plastic wrap.. OH YEAH!! The sepnt the night in the get up and the next day I laid them downa dn went through their hair AGAIN! only the never came BACK!! Thank goodness…
I did not want to keep using chemicals on their heads and I Googled and found several ideas. This one WORKED!!

Angeline January 21, 2009, 1:30 PM

I feel that you should continue with the non toxic stuff. I found Tea Tree Oil shampoo to be very effective in both mine and my son’s hair. Good Luck.

DeeJay January 21, 2009, 11:59 PM

Think you are right in not wanting to put toxic chemicals in your daughter’s hair. It only takes 26 seconds for the chemicals to reach her bloodstream. A child’s immune system is not fully developed until they are well into their teens. All it will do is suppress her immune system…Keep trying with Natural Remedies. Mayo on the head wrapped in a warm towel covered with a plastic bag. Nothing will help if you don’t wash EVERYTHING! Tea Tree Oil is great as a preventative and can be found in a very powerful shampoo to be used daily to keep the nasty bugs away.
Good luck! D.J.

Margie January 22, 2009, 8:17 PM

My granddaughter got head lice from her best friend and nothing worked until I got her a prescription drug and it worked> after that she had it one more time and I covered her hair with Listerene mouth wash and let it stay in for about 30 minutes and washed it really good and it worked.

Anonymous January 25, 2009, 11:03 AM

smoother childs hair in conditioner and comb though with nit comb every evening until there are no lice left, you just have to keep doing it!!! I would also suggest doing this once a week anyway just to check for lice.

Trolup January 26, 2009, 8:59 AM

My nieces kids get lice every year in School. One problem is where kids hang their coats in School. Some in the back of the room. Where the lice crawls from coat to coat.

Just a heads up for you all. Lice jump, so make sure you wash the coats and anything they put on their heads.
Kids getting lice does not make you a bad momma.

Desiree January 27, 2009, 2:34 PM

As a child I got lice while in school. I remember how horrible that was. I have thick curly hair and it took HOURS to go through my hair looking for eggs. My mother tried everything that was offered over the counter. Nothing worked for me. She even thought about shaving my head. Finally, my mother and I went to our family doctor where they prescribed Sulfer Pills. The following morning there were dead lice on my pillow. Within the two days I was back at school. I understand your concern and I agree with you. I have been in the situation before. Go to the doctor and get sulfer pills.

spazzy chick February 11, 2009, 2:33 PM

i have only had lice twice and long hair at the same time so i used about as much of that god awful shampoo as i could het my hands on cleaned my room untill it shined and nothing, still itchy. so so so i got my petroleum jelly out ok ill suffocate the bastards i thought used all of the vaseline and left it in for a week. when i finally washed it out poofda no more lice!but they came back [my friend did my hair] so i just shaved my hair all off. untill my head was shiny. no more lice. ever!

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