It’s one of the dreaded calls that no parent wants to receive from the school nurse: your child has head lice. Nooooo! Lice infestations are annoying and can drive everyone mad while trying to remove them. However, step one is to keep calm.
Before you reach for the OTC stuff, it’s worth checking out a hair home remedy that won’t have you spending money on multiple rounds of treatments. One of the reasons is that like bacteria, lice have developed a tolerance over the years for certain chemical formulations.
Prescription washes are also available, but they don’t always address the full life cycle of the buggers. Sometimes they don’t work at all. That’s added frustration for you and your family! Reach into your cupboards to make this DIY remedy that can help take out an army of lice and its future generations.
DIY Lice Treatment
- Nit comb
- Mouthwash (amber colored won’t stain)
- Vinegar (white or apple cider)
- Shower caps or plastic bags large enough for a head
In a sink or bathtub, soak the hair in mouthwash, avoiding the face. Do not rinse it out.
Cover head with a shower cap or a plastic bag secured with a shower cap (depending on length of hair) for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the cap and rinse the hair with water, followed by only a vinegar rinse. Leave the vinegar in.
Wrap the damp hair in a towel or use a new plastic covering. Leave head covered for another hour.
Wash hair with normal shampoo. Comb through wet hair with nit comb, carefully removing any lice carcasses and eggs. Be sure to use good lighting.
Repeat treatment in 3 – 7 days.
It’s thought that the strong oils in mouthwash like thyme, peppermint, and eucalyptus work to suffocate and kill live lice. Though it doesn’t destroy the nits (eggs), mouthwash does help to make them easier to comb out. Vinegar kills both the adult walkers and their eggs. Once you’re done with this double-whammy treatment, you should see their little dead bodies everywhere.
If you’re worried about a reinvasion of the critters, you can also make a hair spritz with some mouthwash or an essential oil like peppermint that can be used periodically. In a spray bottle, combine 1 part water and 1 part mouthwash. The smell actually repels lice.
For other preventive measures, remind kids not to share hair brushes, hats, or towels. Some parents even have rules in place that squash hugging, taking head-to-head selfies, and this kid fave: sleepovers. Don’t forget to launder bedding and pillowcases in hot water. It wouldn’t hurt to add vinegar or Borax to the wash water either.
While some people have never experienced a lice problem, the CDC estimates there are between 6 and 12 million lice infestations per year in children ages 3 and 11. And that’s just here in the U.S.!
Have you ever had to deal with a lice takeover? Is mouthwash or vinegar one of your secret weapons? What’s your strategy to get rid of them? Tell us in the comments!