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Treating Head Lice with Vinegar

Treating Head Lice with Vinegar

A common problem for school children is head lice. Vinegar and mayonnaise are common home remedies used to get rid of them, though their effectiveness is disputed.
HairGlamourista Staff
While a head lice infestation may sound pretty awful, if you are between the age of 3 to 12 years, and suffer from head lice, do not panic, and realize that it is a fairly common problem. Lice are tiny, wingless insects that live by sucking blood from the scalp. They reside within the hair and lay eggs that are attached close to the base of the strand of hair. While they do not present any danger or spread diseases, they are downright irritating and cause the scalp to become itchy and inflamed.

As these infestations usually take place in children, parents may be wary of using over-the-counter products such as shampoos and lotions. For this reason, there are many home remedies that people try. Vinegar, mayonnaise, and olive oil are those that are commonly used. However, they are not believed to be very effective. Parents are advised to use products made especially for the purpose, for most are made keeping in mind the fact that they are to be used on children.

Signs
  • If you find your child frequently scratching his or her head, you should check for head lice.
  • On close examination, you will spot some, or their eggs (called nits) that are attached to the base of the hair.
  • The eggs are white and appear like flakes of dandruff that won't brush off.
  • A lymph is a growing louse that has not reached adulthood. It is similar in appearance to an adult louse but smaller, and it possesses a yellow to rust color.
  • An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, and after feeding, it has a rust brown color.
  • Other signs are small, red bumps (from the bites) on the scalp, neck, and shoulders.
Using Vinegar
  • This is a very common home remedy.
  • The reason for it is that vinegar is known for its ability to dissolve strong adhesives similar to the one the louse uses to attach the nit to the shaft of the hair.
  • Thus, the only way that the use of vinegar can be effective is by assisting in the removal of nits by loosening them.
  • While removing nits is an important part of the treatment, one must understand using vinegar is not a complete cure.
  • To clear up a few other misconceptions, the frequent suggestion of using mayonnaise or olive oil to smother the lice does not work either. These solutions may only make the removal of nits easier.
Treatment
  • There are plenty of products that are meant specifically for the purpose, and one may use any of them.
  • Whichever medicated shampoo, cream rinse, or lotion you use, it is very important to follow the instructions, or it may not be effective.
  • Lotions and shampoos containing 1% permethrin (Nix) are usually effective and can be bought without a prescription.
  • However, if they don't work, and you need a stronger product, you will probably need to get a prescription for it.
  • While some products may kill all the worms and some of the nits, others may just knock them out for a while.
  • For this reason, it is extremely important to comb the hair frequently using a fine tooth comb after washing.
In order to minimize chances of a reinfestation, one must take care to keep aside the combs and brushes used by the person, as well as towels, pillow cases, bed linens, and clothes worn up to two days before the treatment. They should either be sealed in a plastic bag, and kept that way for two weeks, or they should be machine washed and dried using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Dry cleaning is also an option. If you've been given a strong recommendation of treating head lice with vinegar, check with your doctor before trying it out.