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Listerine Kills Lice

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Over the last couple of decades lice have become resistant to some of the most common treatments. This spells frustrations for parents.

There is a new prescription product called Ulesfia Lotion (benzyl alcohol). According to the FDA, this topical treatment eliminated lice completely for 75 percent of those using it in a clinical trial compared to 26 percent using a placebo lotion. It requires two 10-minute treatments a week apart. The active ingredient makes it hard for lice to breathe and they kick the bucket fairly quickly. It does not kill the eggs (nits) though, which is why you need the second treatment. Ulesfia is pricey, though. Here is one mother's observation:

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"My pediatrician just prescribed Ulesfia for my daughter who's been battling lice for months. She has long hair and the cost was $600!
I don't know how they expect anyone to be able to afford this. Hopefully, it won't be long before someone comes out with a comparable cheaper OTC product."

WT, Dec. 7, 2010
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Parents have been experimenting with old-fashioned amber Listerine on the scalp. We have heard from many that massaging this mouthwash into the hair and leaving it on for awhile can also kill lice. In our Home Remedy Library, 82 people have voted on how well it works. They rated it 4.3 stars out of a possible 5. Here are just a few reports:
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"We discovered this morning that my daughter had lice in her long thick hair, a LOT of lice and nits. After the Listerine treatment all the lice were dead and the gazillion nits got combed out. It really did work!"
JB, Nov. 7, 2010
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"House brand generic mouthwash works just as well as Listerine. Soak hair for 2 hours covered in a shower cap. It kills ALL of the bugs so there's no need to use any other shampoos, mayo, Vaseline, special chants, spells, voodoo, amulets or magic charms ;-)

"Soaking the hair in vinegar for 2 hours gets rid of most of the nits. You will probably have to pick a few eggs out. Check for nits once a week."
GN, Feb. 21, 2011
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Listerine may also do double duty against nail fungus, underarm odor and jock itch. Here is another testimonial:

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"I also use Listerine to do foot soaks for my grandma. Did you know it kills toenail fungus? You just put a capful in the tub of water and soak the feet for 10 minutes. No rinsing required. It took a year for the nail to grow out, but now even the doctor is impressed. Voila!"
Dee, Nov. 11, 2010

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44 Comments

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cologne don't kill lice but prevent them... a little bit (no when there is an epidemic)
In some countries in the South of Europe mothers put baby cologne on their children's heads and use vinegar when they wash their head. I don't know if is the smell or what but in general works pretty well.

Interesting. It is likely that the active ingredients in Listerine, eucalyptol, thymol, and menthol (derived from eucalyptus, thyme, and peppermint plant oils), are doing the trick. These compounds are known for their antimicrobial properties and are sometimes used as insecticides. On another note, a diluted solution (5-6 drops eucalyptus and menthol essential oils to 1/4 cup water) works wonders as a natural mouth rinse while sparing the saccharin and artificial colors found in many commercial mouth rinses. Refrain from ingestion or concentrated topical uses.

My 4th grader, Sarah, has twice a bad case of nits. Listerine works like a charm. Spray, don't pour, cover with a shower cap as long as you can stand it--an hour or two and then wash. The fun begins with the picking out of the dead nits. I have a her put on a new movie (Red Box) while I pick. Although the next day there may or may not be more, I repeat the treatment. I also soak any hair items--clips, brushes--in Listerine. This is a very cheap way to treat lice and nits. The biggest expense is the hot water needed to wash all the bedding, dolls, stuffed animals, coats, etc. A side benefit is that Listerine makes hair soft and shiny. You will smell the Listerine every time your hair gets wet for 2 to 3 weeks. I can live with that, easily, because of the cost and the fact that I am not filling our heads with chemicals.

This website is great to share our findings. Here is another tip. As well as the Listerine trick. Spray Listerine on heads then lather your hair and scalp in firm hold, concrete hold hair gel overnight and wrap up heads in a towel [like a nappy white size terry toweling towel]. Then wrap masking tape around to secure the towel on your child's head and yours, the whole family. [hair gel can be bought cheap for $2.99 a tub].

The gel will prevent the new eggs from hatching and gels the critters in place overnight so they can't move to mate.

Next day, wash all hair in shower with head and shoulders shampoo or vosene, once to remove the gel, second to do a thorough cleanse.

Now blow dry hair thoroughly till fluffy dry and invest in a robi-comb, electronic that is great for skimming through quickly to catch a few more that might have been missed with the Listerine and gel overnight plus the shampooing the next day. These critters know how to avoid and evolve.

Anyway once gone through quick, gel the hair up again for the whole day for boys and hairspray firm hold for girls and tie that hair tight back. When they are stuck in place it prevents movement and mating plus some will dry out and die. Others will make a mass exodus off your head and try to get another head for a new home lol. You may feel a little crawling on your neck. When you do. Grab it and squeeze it tight dead. Voila it works. Any that are escaping know their days are numbered.

Repeat the process again at night until gone. So kids getting ready for bed for school once they come in from playing. Tea time, bed-time - the routine is:- Shower, shampoo x2 , blowdry - this definitely unnerves them, quick nit comb, Listerine spray, firm hair gel, towel wrapped round head for overnight sleeping with masking tape wrapped around for night sleep. Yes you will all look like you have turbans on your head but you will be able to give each other a really good cuddle without feeling isolated from each other. Your heads are covered from those pesky parasites.

Having had head lice for the first time since being in western Australia, I took to it with a vengeance and over the past 2 weeks, we have thinned their numbers out by the above method. Once we have blow dried the hair we have a quick look through with the magnifying glass to check for any hanger onners lol. But we are not hours with the nit comb and conditioner like we were in the beginning. Once you've cleared the large numbers out with OTC for the first time. Then its maintenance and clean up. But the Gel and towel wrapped overnight with the masking tape to add an extra seal has saved us endless hoovering and washing bedding plus wasted valuable precious family time enjoying other things.

It's been a trauma for us all since the first sighting and the horror of dealing with them. But now we know what to look out for we are hot on their tales. Those nits and lice hate the MD's in the family - The Mum Detectors hee hee.

Plus just one thing to note, if you get them at the pin prick stage, and they are white like tiny pieces of dandruff for their shape is unlike dandruff, more like an oval shape, you are on to a winner. They are only brown once they have put their straw like pincer into your skin to drink. Horrible thought but its great to know the characteristics of them so that you can be one step ahead of them. Ha ha excuse the pun, non intended.

All the best to you mums, I am totally with you on the bane of this for our lives. Just remember for school and play with other kids. Gel your boys up and hairspray and tie your girls hair up. It works wonders.

Take care. X

would it make sense to add a bottle of generic "Listerine" to the washing water or does
the hot water kill the eggs/nits?

My daughter had lice and after reading the people's pharmacy column in our local paper we decided to try Listerine since the otc treatment did not work. We all sprayed our heads, put on shower caps for 2 hours and washed. Problem solved.

We have used margarine quite effectively. Lice are thorax-breathers. The margarine smothers them. Re-treat in 2 (maybe 4) weeks and put the effected bedding (pillows, sheets, etc) in a plastic trash bag and seal it. The eggs will hatch and die in the absence of a blood-meal. Margarine is the very very cheap. Spread it on at night just before bed-time. We placed several bath towels on top of the pillow and bed to prevent oil-stains. The hair gets a nice oil-treatment and your kids aren't exposed to harmful chemicals, assuming they aren't allergic to the plant from which the margarine was made (corn, soy, etc).

You can also use olive oil; I think it would be healthier and you can buy it generic [store brand].

When you put Listerine in your hair, do you need to put a shower cap on? And will Mint/Rosemary shampoo and conditioner kill lice?

Well I've tried black hair dye. Certain brands seem to kill the lice, and most of the nits are dyed black... Which isn't too good when you are picking them out, I still don't know if it kills the nits as well.

Well I am trying Listerine... with tree oil... and mayo... Let's see what's the outcome... cause I did my research and everybody says Listerine mayo and tree oil works. And wash all bedding.... she has them bad....

I swear by the Listerine. I used a shower cap and left it on my head for about half hour. It does start to burn if you have a sensitive scalp. I would seem to believe that it dissolves the adhesive that makes the nit hold onto the shaft as well as possibly intoxicate the louse that's crawling? Not sure.

The other thing that has worked, and it may sound gross, but flat ironing hair to kill nits. Be warned - they pop - but they aren't going to hatch and heat does kill them. :) Then blow dry your scalp after washing to kill the crawlers. That has also worked. Much more tedious than Listerine.

Listerine does work, but you have to pick all the nits out. We've had lice on and off for 4 yrs, and its an epidemic if you don't get the nits out quick.

My daughter had lice last week for the first time. She is 10. I freaked! I didn't bother with the OT stuff and went right for the Listerine. I only had green walmart brand but I figured it was the same. I covered her head with it, placed a shower cap and towel. She sat for 1/2 hour. I combed out the nits. The best part... they were GREEN and easy to see!

I then covered her hair again for another 1/2 hour and repeated. After I soaked her in olive oil for 1/2 hr and combed again. I was so worried, I then covered her again with Listerine and she went to bed to soak overnight. Next day I she seemed clean so I washed her with Coconut oil shampoo. I checked that afternoon and she had a few more nits ( very small). I repeated with Listerine, white vinegar and a hot oil treatment and Denerix Shampoo. Then I blew dry and flat ironed her hair.

I repeated the blow dry, flat iron and coconut shampoo every day for 3 days following. All stuffed animals and hair stuff went into a bag, and I boiled our brushes. All linens were placed in the dryer every day for 30 minutes on hot for 4 days. So far so good. No more outbreak. I know I went to the extreme, but I hear horror stories of people battling lice for months. I figured a week of being overly crazy, would give me back months of my life of worry! Good luck and stay lice free!

Does anyone know if listerine takes the hair dye out of your hair?

I read about the Listerine use for lice. A bit skeptical but my oldest came in with a full blown case of lice and since I battled last year for over 6 weeks with my younger two, I decided to give it a try!

OMGosh, I put the Listerine (regular kind the others are sticky) on her head and then put on the shower cap for 2 hrs. We then rinsed her head, combed with a regular comb and she went to bed. We didn't get a vinegar treatment done due to the time of night.

The next morning, I checked her head and I didn't see any lice at all. I was sure she probably had some nits but she went off to school with a tight braid. She was checked by the nurse and the nurse couldn't find anything on her head!

Tonight, we combed through her hair and once again, no lice. I did find a few nits but I told her to flat iron her hair and come tomorrow we would repeat the treatment for the next week until we knew for certain all the buggers were gone and so were the eggs! She has super thick, dense hair and it's almost impossible to go through each strand to pick the nits. We will definitely add the vinegar treatment to the mix to help get the nits gone.

Thanks for the suggestion!

I have used listerine for years and never had any problems with hair color. I have used it for occasional dandruff and a once in a while good tingling cleaning. Works better than dandruff shampoo, even the Tar shampoo.

Just thought I would leave my feedback! I guess put simply...this method is amazing! My daughter was all clear after two back to back rinses with generic mouthwash! Thanks so much for he tips ladies! I HATE lice...totally grosses me out lol.

Please help! I am in a panic. How can I get rid of these with no help? I will try the Listerine, vinegar, hair dryer and all these ideas but how can I get rid of the nits when I can't see anything but the front of my hair? There really is no one to ask to do it for me.

After an out of state visit to family, I came home with lice. I am alone and have no one to help comb out the nits. I have used 2 OTC treatments in 2 weeks plus I mixed up essential oils in coconut oil. I have washed bedding, towels, clothes so often but what will really work. I have 2 dogs that I am praying will be spared. After reading how hard they are to get rid of I am even more scared and I itch all over. This consumes my life. Help!

How long can I leave Listerine on my head and hair with damaging my hair?

I used an otc product just as directed w not much luck there were still a few live ones 3 days later. just tried Listerine saturated my head then covered w cap for 2hrs then vinegar for an hr. 7 hrs later I find myself very itchy could it just be from the lice bites? I haven't found any more live lice nor nits

From what I've read, one can feel itching for a day or so after treatment due to the lice bites as you stated. My son's head became itchy on Friday, I saw a louse last night, did the RID last night, have spent all day doing laundry and researching. So, I've just cut my my 9 year old's hair very short (with the dog clippers...his hair is very thick and curly), and have soaked his hair with generic Listerine and he's sitting in his shower cap watching a movie. I'll follow this with a vinegar rinse if it doesn't get too late... otherwise that will wait until morning. Will report on how it goes. I think the whole family will do a preventative Listerine rinse this evening. Everyone remember to tell your children NOT to share helmets or hats...that's how he got it.

1st case of head lice ever for my youngest who is 7 1/2. After using several name brand products over and over again the lice did not go away. My 7 1/2 year old tired of dealing with the lice situation took it upon herself to google..."How To Kill Lice"... and wouldn't you know it, the first article that came up for her was "Listerine kills lice".

After reading it we went straight to the store and picked up a bottle for about $5. I can safely say that Listerine has absolutely, no doubt about it, killed the lice completely. I waited 3 weeks before writing this comment so that I can make sure that they were truly gone. We are now 100 % lice free.

This is a follow up: After treating my son with the listerine and vinegar, I spent the next week... everyday, coming out nits three times a day. The first session of nit removal I got the most, and every subsequent day got fewer. This past Sunday (7 days after the first Rid treatment), I repeating the listerine treatment with shower cap. Conditioned and combed out 2 nits and about 5 or 6 lice in their nymph stage (very small and white looking)... all dead as doornails.

I've been combing out his hair once a day this week, but I've only found a couple of nits. I have also changed my son's pillow case frequently, washed all towels used on his head after one use, and I've made sure his head doesn't come directly in contact with couch, car seat etc. No one else in my family has gotten the lice.

After this week, I'll comb through his hair to check for lice once a week for two more weeks. If I find nothing, then this listerine treatment will have been very successful.

The initial Rid treatment only killed about half of the adult lice that I found on his head. What I've learned about lice: nits can remain vital 2-3 weeks without a host, adults can live 1-2 days without a host, once hatched it takes a nit 6/7 days to reach maturity and start laying eggs (nits). If my daughter (whose hair is long and thick) had gotten lice, I would probably do a listerine treatment and do little to no nit combing. I would let the nits hatch and kill them with listerine before they were old enough to lay eggs... and would repeat this once a week for a month. After speaking with a couple of pediatricians and professional lice removal companies, l discovered this was an alternative way to deal with lice.

Second follow up: For the past two weeks I've been checking my son's head once a week. No lice. However... it appears he did spread it to one other person (a friend's parent!) right before the second treatment. I'm now advising said person. In my defense, everyone he socialized with was informed of the lice and advised of precautions (don't share helmets, protect sofa and car seat backs etc.) even tho' there was no evidence of lice activity when he was allowed to socialize. These are sneaky little bast**ds.
No one else in my family has gotten lice and I believe at this point I can say the Listerine treatment was successful.

I have battled the dreaded Lice for about four years, since my daughter started school. We have spent a small fortune on OTC treatments and I have never had a time where all live lice have been killed. I believed the harshest chemicals should have been effective, and avoided the herbal remedies. In desperation, I started reading these comments and today, I followed the two hour Listerine treatment. WOW! I am so excited and impressed with how successful it is.

My daughter's hair is shiny, squeaky clean and not a single live louse to be seen! Her scalp is really clean and the eggs just slide off the hair. I am so pleased to have a solution and I plan to tell anyone who will listen! Thank you so much.

I have had a foster daughter bring head lice into my home.... I used EVERYTHING !!!!!! the nurse said she saw one bug moving in my head, so I know I had them. I have used everything and I still feel like something is walking and biting me.

Yet when I use the nit comb and look under a magnifying glass and light I see all black specks that look like pepper. Sometime there is so much of them even on the hairs that come off the nit comb.

I have not seen one bug ever! I have used Listerine, Vinegar, Olive oil, Nix.. everything !!!

What are these black spots and why do I still feel something crawling on my head and I still have not seen a bug?
HELP......

I noticed a few itchy bumps on my neck and having trich and running my fingers through my hair constantly I found a couple of eggs. EEEP! I purchased some treatment from the Pharmacy but I wouldn't see results for a week! So online I went to see what a homemade remedy would be.

Listerine was the most popular as well as vinegar and coconut conditioner.
Off to the supermarket I went! I got my sister to help me pour and massage the Listerine into my hair and scalp and wrapped it up in plastic wrap for two hours, then I did a white vinegar rinse which stayed in for an hour, wrapped again.

The next night I soaked my hair in a coconut conditioner and wrapped it again and slept in it all night.

After that I had no issues with itching but did have to get my sister to help get nits out.

Now I sit here with my head wrapped in plastic wrapped while my hair soaks in Listerine... When will I learn to put tea tree oil in my shampoo so I don't get lice from my students!

I don't even bother with pharmacy products anymore, unless of course it is Listerine (plain) and a coconut conditioner ;-)

Here is what I did and it's super cheap.. I ran a bath for my girls I have 3, and I rinsed their hair and applied conditioner LOTS and LOTS of conditioner, I used cheap suave or VO5 I took the comb while they were in the tub and went through their hair in every direction many times until the conditioner was barely noticeable on the comb. Very time consuming when you have multiple children. But since the hair is wet it doesn't cause static electricity and the bugs or nits don't fling away.

As soon as I was close to being done I drained the tub and had my girls take a shower while I rinsed the tub. Then while they were in the shower and drying off and getting dressed I vacuumed the floors and the furniture including couches chairs beds I went over everything 4 or 5 times emptying my canister after each time. After wards they were all gone!! :) I didn't boil my brushes I just bought new ones and individual hair brushes for each of us. All hair ties I boiled for 15 minutes.

For those who have trouble getting all the nits... My children have very thick long hair.. Combing nits and getting them all is immposible. So We just did the listerine... for 30 mins and washed hair... And redid the listering in 3 days.. Then agian in 3 days after that... all gone easy peasy.. we didnt even have shower caps we used kroger bags and tied them.

My washer was broke.. And couldnt afford the laundry mat atm for everything in house.. and I guess doing and redoing EVERYONES head every 3 days was enough.. just have to be sure everyone gets head done and to do at least 3 times every three days... Kills them before they get old enough to lay eggs and long enough for all eggs to hatch..

Trust me we did rid... we did prescription.. we did all kinds of stuff. So if your wondering if this really works IT DOES... Big generic bottle of listerine... and grocery bags and bug free ......

after using original listerine do the lice eggs still stick to hair or are they washed out? Please tell me the exact steps to be followed and also what prevention should be taken while doing so.

plz reply as soon as possible

Totally amazing! My 10 year old and I think we have survived this nasty, disgusting bug!!!

Found out she was covered in lice Friday.............spent 83$ on pharmacy stuff to no avail........they still lived! Even tried the mayo thing.........I was still getting LIVE ones off her little head so at my wits end went to the computer.......searched home remedies and Listerine came up on a search engine.

I had some on hand and tried it! Almost instantly all bugs stoped living! Where I was picking the live ones off the comb and putting in a zip lock bag so as not to get in the carpet, I put listerine in the bag and ALL movement stopped!

We have vacuumed and washed clothes like crazy,but I honestly think this is behind us........I plan on soaking her in the stuff every day for 10 days and at least once a week.........FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE!

I also switched to coconut shampoo and conditioner as every site I found said the little pesky buggers dont like the smell. I can smell like a coconut the rest of my life if it means I dont have to repeat this last weekend!

A friend of mine's daughter came in contact with lice early June 2013. A week later she informed me that the lice was gone... So I really didn't think anything of it until just a few days ago the little girl and my friend were itchin like crazy.. then Monday morning July 29th I noticed my 3 year old scratching her head for a long period of time... I was so scared I already knew.. right away I googled it.. saw that mouth wash was the most effective .. soaked her hair in it for and hour then washed it out... 8 !! little critters came out .. I parted her hair and picked whatever eggs out that were left.. very few.. put vaseline on it and put it in a bun ... 2 days later ..not a critter in sight ...

I usually dont post comments about anything anywhere but I just had to say this...i have four beautiful daughters and unfortunately for a long time we tried everything you can think of to get rid of lice and nits. Nothing worked. I followed every advice, you name it, I put it in their hair. Then one day, again "ok ill try that" was told to use listerine so I soaked their heads, left it in for two hours with a shower cap and what I did was shampoo their heads with head n shoulders with almond oil. You see usually with other products I noticed some of the bugs were still alive even though they washed out but for the first time...all were dead!! I used the nit comb and with remainiing nits, I took them out by hand. Well im very very happy to say its been over a month NO BUGS NO NITS of course you moms out there can relate...i get paranoid and do the usual head check. Listerine original formula does work take my word for it...4 girls with long hair with lice was no joke I cried at times I thought theres nothing left to try but I finally found the solution!!

My son had a friend who had head lice and we did not find out until he showed up one day to play video games and his head was shaved. I put all things on halt and checked into the allegation and it was true, he had lice. I then checked my little boy who sleeps with mom and dad often and he had head lice. I checked my husband and he had head lice, my husband checked me and yes...I had head lice. First time in our lives!

Well, I treated my son's and husband's head with Rid, combed their hair, picked their hair and cut their hair very short. All is good with them! Me...it is 2 months and one week later and as I type I have olive oil on with a shower cap. My head is sooo tender and I am hitting the stage of anger :-/

I have seen the Doctor twice, had lice Doctors come to the home, tried real mayo, coconut oil, vinegar, even peanut butter, and including Vaseline. I would see some dead bugs wash out of my hair, but still battle the bug. I comb with a nit comb, I even bought the Robie Electric Nit Comb, I have spent over a thousand dollars and I am ready to cry my eyes out.

I am going to try the Listerine and pray to goodness that it works! I am sleep deprived, exhausted and just want to feel normal again. I have cleaned my home, stripped my bedding and washed them, threw away the pillows and bought new ones and left the plastic covers on them then I placed my pillow case on them so all I would have to do is strip the pillow cases daily and wipe the plastic off on the pillows. I washed laundry, did a complete cleaning of the home and disinfected down to the floors.

Threw away hats, got new combs that get boiled a couple of times a day, cut my finger nails short, took my ear rings out of my ears, clean my eye glasses and the list goes on!

I am praying this Listerine works. I read what you all have written and it makes me smile, I pray this will rid these ugly little pest! Thank you for sharing and i will give an update at a later time ;-)

We use Listerine as a preventative measure as my 10 year (who has beautiful, long, thick, clean, dark hair) has gotten lice every year for years! I spray her head with Listerine every morning after she gets out of the shower. I tie her hair up in a tight bun and hair spray it next. So far so good :)

Did Listerine work for you???

Listerine works like a charm. We also spray Lysol on every surface. This includes the couches, rugs, etc. Many people forget the cars and backpacks. Most of the time that is why you will get nits or lice back. We then use the gel, hairspray and braid routine. My daughter has picked up lice 3 times and every time it only takes one treatment.

Yes mouthwash works. I have 4 kids and in school have gotten infested. I tried all types of lice shampoos and none worked as effectively as mouthwash. How long to leave it on the hair for I'm still a little confused about, most I've seen people say is two hours, maybe it's most effective if you leave for that long.

A few years ago my Grand daughter had lice she had contacted at school. The best remedy I found was "Oil of Oregano."

Put a dropperful in one tablespoon of shampoo. Wet the hair and work into dud's on the hair. Pile on top of head and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then rince and shampoo as usual and condition. Repeat in 7 days just to be sure you killed all eggs. Be sure to comb out with a lice come after treatment to remove all eggs and lice. The treatment is not poison and will not harm the hair. It does not burn and the smell leaves. It also works perfect in long hair which my grand-daughter had. It's the best treatment I have ever found. Marianne Daniels

I have hair that is dyed medium brown. I did not notice any difference in hair color with use of listerine to treat the lice. I used the green kind of listerine because the brown one is not available where I live. It did make my hair feel a little straw like but conditioner fixed that worry.

I can honestly say I've been battling Lice for what seems like forever! I did the lice treatment about 2am and left it on for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When I pulled the shower cap off there was 4 bugs on the cap! It was very startling as I thought I had been lice free since school ended. But I'm glad I found this website and so far I've had no more itching. Going to do the vinegar tomorrow and hopefully this god awful battle will be over with!

I wish I knew about the Listerine method years ago. I have three daughters and my youngest has had the worst time of all three of them. She just finished 1st grade and I've been fighting these buggers since she was in PRE-K! Today I went to the store and bought three large bottles of Listerine so I could stock up.

I soaked her hair for 30 minutes and I CANNOT believe the amount of bugs that fell DEAD out of her hair when I rinsed her hair. I have spent on the upwards of $900 on everything over the years from all natural remedies from companies I've seen online, to the chemicals that lice are RESISTANT to and that never worked. Thank goodness for this stuff. I will be telling anyone who will listen not to waste their money. I only spent $20 today and that was on combs and shower caps too!

Do you put the Listerine on dry or wet hair?

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