Head lice are small parasites that can spread easily among youngsters who are exposed to an infected child, explains Barb Ogg of the University of Nebraska. Infestations must be dealt with quickly to keep the lice from spreading to the rest of the family, schoolmates and other people. There are many commercial products to kill lice, but some parents prefer home remedies as an alternative to chemicals. These remedies vary, but all are centered on suffocating the lice with a natural product.
Hair Styles Cut, a hair information site, recommends mayonnaise as a popular home head lice remedy. Any brand can be used, as all types of mayonnaise contain fats and oils which are believed to suffocate the lice. The mayo must be thickly applied to the hair. The head should then be wrapped in plastic, and it must remain on the head for at least two hours. The mayo can be left on longer if the child will tolerate it. It can then be rinsed out with vinegar and water.
Olive oil can be used to smother head lice. Researchers at Harvard conducted a small-scale study which showed lice will die after at least two hours of being soaked in olive oil. The oil should be worked through the hair, which is then covered with plastic. It must remain in place for at least two hours or some of the lice might survive. It can be rinsed out with vinegar and water after the appropriate time frame.
Richard Pollack, Ph.D., a Harvard researcher, explains that heat from a hair dryer may be effective at killing lice. There are no set guidelines on how long to apply the heat, but Pollack warns that care is necessary because the scalp can be burned if the dryer is held too close. This method should only be used on older children who can speak up if it becomes uncomfortable.
Combing should be used along with any other home remedy because treatments that kill the lice themselves usually do not eliminate the eggs. The University of California advises purchasing a metal nit comb from a drug store because plastic combs do not work as well. The hair should be combed outward from the crown of the head. Lice bodies and eggs should be periodically wiped off the comb with tissue and placed in a plastic bag. The bag should be sealed and thrown away directly after the combing.