fight lice

Many parents become so frustrated dealing with lice infestations that they are tempted to pull their own hair out. Some parents are concerned about having to use insecticides repeatedly. As lice develop resistance to commonly used pesticides, however, parents may need to treat children time after time to try to eradicate the lice. One mother was delighted to get her pediatrician’s lice remedy.

What Is the Pediatrician’s Lice Remedy?

Q. My pediatrician confirmed my suspicions that my daughter had lice. Needless to say, I was upset. She will soon be heading for camp and I did not want her to suffer the humiliation of being diagnosed there or spreading lice to other kids.

The pediatrician warned me that lice have developed resistance to chemicals in lice shampoos. Instead, she recommended slathering mayonnaise on my daughter’s hair.

We tried this technique and covered her head with a shower cap for a few hours. Then I carefully combed her hair, rinsed and shampooed. Three treatments a few days apart solved the problem!

Home Remedies for Lice:

A. There are an amazing number of home remedies for lice. Many involve the suffocation approach using things such as mayonnaise, olive oil, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, Cetaphil cleanser, amber Listerine and dimethicones (Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Nov. 2016). 

Although pediatricians are happy with simple remedies that work, dermatologists may not approve.

An article in Pediatric Dermatology (Sept. 2016) states that

“home remedies such as mayonnaise, and essential oils, have not been demonstrated to be safe and effective, and may carry potential for severe adverse events.”

Some old-fashioned home remedies could certainly be harmful. We are mystified about what damage mayonnaise might do, though.

Another mother had success with just one ingredient of mayonnaise: olive oil.

Can you use olive oil to overcome lice?

Using Olive Oil to Overcome Lice:

Q. Years ago, my oldest child had head lice and I was completely unfamiliar with the situation and the best treatment. As a result, I went the chemical route and spent a fortune on nasty, stinky chemicals which eventually worked.

Years later, when my youngest contracted the nasty critters, I had learned a quicker, cheaper and far healthier alternative which was totally successful. I coated the hair very liberally with olive oil, massaging it through and through. Then I put a tight shower cap on the kid and put a towel on the pillow before she went to bed. In the morning, all the creepies had suffocated and the hair was very nicely conditioned! I had to shampoo her hair several times until we got all of the oil out, but it worked like a charm!

Home Remedies for Fighting Lice:

A. People have been looking for home remedies to treat lice because many of the OTC insecticidal shampoos have lost effectiveness. Lice can be smothered with mineral oil or petroleum jelly (Wolf et al, PLOS One, June 10, 2016). Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser can also be used to suffocate lice.

Olive oil has not been shown to be as effective, though one study reported that an olive-oil based soap was roughly 76 percent effective in killing lice (Soler et al, Semergen, March, 2017).  Moreover, all suffocation methods require re-treatment after a week since they don’t always kill lice eggs (nits). The second treatment kills the lice that hatch from those eggs, preferably before they have a chance to lay eggs themselves.

What Remedy Can Get Rid of Nits?

Significantly, Australian investigators found that a “suffocation” pediculocide (NeutraLice Advance) killed 68 percent of lice eggs (BMC Dermatology, Aug. 24, 2011). (This Australian product contains mineral oil and benzyl alcohol, among other ingredients.) Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any evidence that coating the hair with mayonnaise can kill lice eggs.

Public health nurses always remind us that combing out nits (lice eggs) is essential for a successful cure. That extra step helps to prevent re-infestation. It might help explain why your pediatrician’s lice remedy worked so well for you.

Newsletter Reading List

  1. 1Will Hot Water Help You Move Your Bowels?
  2. 2Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Cause Cognitive Problems
  3. 3Will Soy Sauce Ease Your Burn Pain?
  4. 4Why Aren’t Docs Outraged by Inadequate Generic Drug Approval?
  5. 5How Can You Prevent Tick Bites?
  6. 6Decongestant Spray Addiction is Hard to Kick
  7. 7Generic Furosemide Disappoints | How to Afford Lasix?
  8. 8Show 1169: What Are the Problems with Generic Drugs?
  9. 9PPIs are Safe! New Study Contradicts Prior Research
  10. 10Warfarin and Green Leafy Vegetables Can Be OK
  11. 11Diabetes Risk No Lower with Vitamin D Supplements
  12. 12Could TV On All Night Make You Gain Weight?

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Elaine

    I think that someone should seriously question those dermatologists. What were they thinking? If the lice go away by any safe method, who really cares. Furthermore, does a dermatologist want a patient in their office with lice? It is hardly a need for a specialist. I’m for low tech methods that probably the lice can’t evolve a resistance to!

  2. Diane

    A nurse recommended the mayo treatment after I told her I had treated with chemicals and contined to be plagued. Success came when I retreated every three days with mayo, shower cap, and combing. Messy but definitely better than anything else I tried.

  3. Jeannette

    Use natural method every time. Not only are lice becoming resistent to pesticide treatments but they ALSO DO NOT KILL EGGS and therefore repeat treatments are necessary.

  4. jane

    Let’s see… the dermatologist is concerned about the possible toxic effects of mayo or olive oil???? I presume they have no such concern about using potent toxic chemicals. Congratulations to big pharma. Another “professional” successfully brainwashed, or maybe it’s just there is no money for the medical machine in home remedies.

  5. Vicky

    Cover the hair with mayonnaise or oil. Comb with lice comb. Wash twice with shampoo. Condition with vinegar. Let dry. Wet again, cover with shower cap or plastic bag. Keep for few hours. Rinse and style.

  6. Andria

    It sounds to me that mayonnaise, olive oil or even a supersaturated solution of salt water saturation of the child’s hair would be much less toxic than the nasty chemicals in the lice shampoos and prescription meds from a dermatologist. I’d certainly do it.

  7. Judy
    Greensboro NC

    Years ago my daughter came home with lice. I was told of the recommendation of the mayonnaise treatment. I believe I retreated once maybe twice two days in between. The treatment worked beautifully and we avoided the nasty pesticides. The only difference between our treatment and those described in this article was that I wrapped her head in a tight fitting turban made of saran wrap rather than a loose fitting shower cap.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.