Q. Both of my boys were sent home from school with head lice. The checklist given to me by the school nurse said that in order for them to return to school, I must treat their scalps with an insecticide.
I used a head lice treatment containing permethrin and it was completely ineffective. Both children were refused readmission to school and I was instructed to reapply the insecticide that day (despite the package instructions that treatments should be spaced at least 7 days apart).
I took them home and washed their hair, towel-dried it, then saturated it with Listerine and covered their heads with shower caps. I left the shower caps on for two hours, then we removed them and I combed with a lice comb.
The next day they washed their hair, toweled it dry and I sprayed their hair with Listerine and combed.
The lice are gone even though the infestation was severe. Prior to the Listerine treatment I combed hundreds of lice from their hair. Listerine was MUCH more effective than the insecticide.
A. There are reports that lice have developed resistance to some insecticides used in lice shampoos. We first heard about using Listerine against lice in 1999. A reader reported spraying it on her child’s head before his possible exposure to lice.
A lice expert once told us that she thought the alcohol (26.9 percent) in Listerine was toxic to lice. The herbal oils found in Listerine (thymol, eucalyptol, menthol and methyl salicylate) may also contribute to the effect.