Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Teacher Suggests Strategies Against Lice

Q. I teach elementary school and lice are an ongoing frustrating problem. Many low-income families struggle with the high cost of treatments, which often are not effective.

I have two suggestions that are natural and quite effective (given to me by my students’ families).

1) Coat the affected head entirely with mayonnaise and cover with a shower cap. Leave on head for at least one hour. (Watch a movie or read a story.) Rinse and shampoo as usual. I am told this drowns the lice.

2) When the affected head is dry, put the child in the bathtub and pour salt on the scalp, taking care to keep it out of the eyes. Rub in with fingers for several minutes. This is supposed to loosen the nits. Rinse and then wash hair as usual.

When my own daughter got head lice at age 6, I was appalled at how her tender scalp turned red and irritated at the commercial treatments. We used these two inexpensive, natural suggestions a few times over a two-week period and were lice free. I suggest them to anyone I know who has to deal with head lice.

A. Desperate parents have used mayonnaise to coat the hair and suffocate lice. Others have used olive oil. One review of home remedies found that only petroleum jelly was effective at killing lice (Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Dec. 2004). Readers have testified that getting Vaseline out of hair is a major problem, though!

One other approach we have heard is to soak the hair with Cetaphil (a non-soap cleanser), use a blow-dryer to harden it and leave it on overnight (Pediatrics, Sept. 2004). Shampoo the hair in the morning.

Rate this article
5- 2 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.