What does fact checked mean?
At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
The information contained on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional health care provider. Please check with the appropriate physician regarding health questions and concerns. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.
Head lice are small parasitic insects that feed and thrive on blood from the scalp and attach their eggs (nits) to hair close to the scalp. Lice are spread from person to person through close physical contact or sharing of personal items such as combs, hats and scarves. According to the Mayo Clinic, head lice is the second most contracted communicable condition, the common cold being number one, spread among school age children 1. Ridding your child and your home of this pesky critter can be troublesome and costly. There is a natural method of treatment.
Unfortunately, getting rid of head lice is time consuming, setting aside a full day may be necessary, as the mayonnaise treatment alone takes eight hours. There are five main things you need before you begin: one jar of 100 percent real mayonnaise, bottle of white or apple cider vinegar, a shower cap or plastic shopping bag, a fine-toothed comb and a nit comb (can be purchased at any pharmacy). Having some plastic gloves and a couple of old towels available is a good idea also, but not absolutely necessary. And for after treatment, you should have a shampoo specially formulated for greasy or oily hair.
Your child's hair needs to be dry before application to ensure complete saturation. Have your child remove his clothing and secure them in a plastic bag. It is recommended that you have him wear old play clothes that can be thrown away after treatment, as his clothes may become stained by the mayonnaise. After everything you've done ridding your child of lice, you probably won't feel like treating grease-stained clothes too.
The application its self is simple. Coat your child's entire head with mayonnaise and cover with a shower cap or plastic shopping bag. It is important, however, to make sure ever bit of hair and scalp is coated heavily with mayonnaise. If using a shower cap, make sure it fits snugly around the head and base of the neck. For a plastic bag, pull it snug from the back of the neck, around the ears, tying it in a knot at the forehead. Make sure there is little air as possible and the bag is free from any holes or tears.
Now you wait. The mayonnaise needs to be left on the head for eight hours. Kids will be kids, so it is very important that you keep an eye that he doesn't loosen or remove the cap. It needs to remain as air tight as possible for the entire eight hours to ensure success. While waiting there are other things you can be doing to help prevent re-infestation; that will be discussed in the final section.
Some oil may drip or run from under the cap, especially if it is a warm day. Give him an old towel to wipe it away. Also, it is a good idea to stay indoors or shaded area, as the heat from the sun can cause even greater temperatures under the cap, the smell is not so nice. It's much like rotten eggs.
After eight hours, remove cap and discard. To remove dead lice, work through his hair with the fine tooth comb. Then rinse out the majority of mayonnaise with as warm water temperature as possible, without hurting your child's scalp. Don't use any shampoo at this time. The oil will not completely rinse out, that is fine, it is actually what you want for the next step.
Doing small sections at a time, saturate the hair with vinegar. Beginning at the scalp, use the nit comb to remove eggs (nits) from the base of the hair. This may take a bit of time, depending on the severity of infestation and length of your child's hair.
Once all eggs are removed, wash his hair with shampoo. It may take two or three times before his hair is completely mayonnaise free. You may also want to condition his hair, as vinegar can strip the hair of its natural oils.
The complete life cycle of a louse is about 25 days, from egg to adulthood. Eggs, once laid, hatch in about seven days. It is critical to check your child's head, for at least a week after, for any eggs or lice that may have been missed during treatment. This will help reduce the likelihood of future infestation.
During treatment, while waiting those long eight hours, there are things you should do to protect your home and child. Vacuum floors and furniture completely. Wash all bedding and clothing and washable stuffed animals in hot water. Place any unwashable clothing or toys in a sealed plastic bag for a week, this will kill any live lice.
And the most important suggestion of all--teach you children about not sharing other people's personal items at school or other places groups of kids congregate.