Until Licefreee!, a limited selection of over-the-counter options for head lice treatment existed. Commonly used lice treatments contained chemical pesticides: permethrin & pyrethrum. These chemicals kill lice by attacking the nervous system.
Resistance to Traditional Lice Treatments
Recently, studies have shown head lice are resistant to traditional, chemical lice treatments. A study by the Journal of Medical Entomology* has shown that head lice in 48 states have developed a resistance to chemical pesticides. Now they are commonly referred to as “super lice”.
Due to their tough exterior shell, chemical pesticides are unlikely to kill lice eggs (called nits). Also, it is unlikely nits have developed a nervous system at the time of treatment. Thus, a thorough combing to remove the eggs is a must. If they hatch, missed eggs can result in a reinfestation.
Also note: Pyrethrum can cause an allergic reaction for children or adults allergic to ragweed.
Non-toxic or Natural Over-The-Counter Lice Treatments
Most consumers choose affordable lice treatments sold over-the-counter (OTC). While some natural or non-toxic options kill head lice, most are lubricants to help aid nit combing. Some natural products claim to be repellents.
Of the products that are treatments, Licefreee! is the first of its kind, using Natrum muriaticum (or, sodium chloride a.k.a. salt) to effectively kill lice and their eggs. So how does Licefreee! kill lice? Sodium chloride desiccates (dehydrates) head lice and their eggs. Eggs are not resistant as Licefreee! is able to penetrate through their shells. Lice and nits are unlikely to build a resistance to Licefreee! because it kills lice without the use of chemicals.
What about those home remedies? We’ve heard it all: mayonnaise, mouthwash, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, the list goes on. These are the options parents choose when they experience one of two scenarios. One, other treatments have failed. Two, they are searching for a head lice treatment without harmful chemicals. There are a couple of reasons why these methods of “smothering” aren’t likely to work.
First, head lice have a series of breathing “holes” along both sides of their abdomen. Lice can control these holes and close them off when an attempting to smother them. They can “hold their breath” like this for several hours!
Next, the eggs. Trying to smother the nits is an impossible task, as they in their protective shells. Like chemical treatments, you must comb out the eggs entirely to avoid reinfestation.
Then there’s the good old-fashioned nit picking. This method of head lice “treatment” can certainly eradicate the problem. The only trouble with this technique is the length of time and the amount of effort it takes to complete. To ensure the removal of all lice and eggs, you must comb out lice and nits in small,1-inch sections. For children with long, thick hair, this can take hours. It can be quite challenging to keep them still, especially with young children.
There are prescription options for head lice treatments. Most are very strong chemicals and can be very expensive. Some may cost as much as several hundred dollars even with insurance. They also require a trip to a doctor to prescribe them. Most consumers opt for more affordable over-the-counter options.
There are businesses that can take care of your head lice for you. They are very expensive requiring appointments and return visits. To prevent another lice outbreak you still have to thoroughly clean your home. Most families find over-the-counter lice treatment options more affordable with faster results.
So, what kills lice? It’s up to you to choose the treatment right for you and your family. Now that you have information on the available options, you can make an informed decision!
*Journal of Medical Entomology: Expansion of the Knockdown Resistance Frequency Map for Human Head Lice (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae) in the United States Using Quantitative Sequencing