hintsandthings.co.uk »Nursery

Treating Head Lice, Suggested Remedies for Getting Rid Headlice.

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See also Parts 2,3, 4, 5, 6 and 7


Treating headlice

Headlice Information, remedies and games.


This subject seems to have created a lot of interest as it appears to be a world wide problem with no definitive answer. We have received many different remedies, some more unusual than others, with different things working for different people.

It has now grown to such an extent I have decided to divide the information into more user friendly pages which I hope you will find more convenient.

As always, research, products and advice is every changing making it very difficult to make available the most up to date at any given time. With this in mind it may be worthwhile checking out the following sites as they are very likely to feature the latest:-



As mentioned in
other pages, the best, safest and cheapest resolution is to remove them
manually with conditioner and a fine tooth comb.

I am retaining the
original information which has been on site for many years in case it is
of interest but I would, however, like to stress at this point that I have
no personal experience of most of the remedies listed I am just passing on information
received from interested visitors.

This page contains many unusual “remedies” which in themselves may cause concern, before embarking on them I am listing some words of caution, the first of which have been received from a Head Lice Consultant –

I am a head lice consultant and treat children and adults for head lice every day. To begin with we tried head lice treatments but found a number of problems.

1. The head lice were not dying from the treatment and continued to breed without any ramifications from the chemicals.

2. Some of the children we treated had devastating side affects to the treatment including asthma, coughing fits, burning, blistering and in some cases scaring not to mention long term health risks.

3. I have found that head lice often feed at the time of treatment and combing is less successful as the louse is attached to the scalp.

Some parents were treating their children every day to try and rid the parasite where others had bought a treatment with their shopping every week for as long as three years.

I then decided to research these chemicals and was horrified by the finding. The NPA reported overwhelming health risk to mainly children and reports of leukeamia became evident.

I then decided to use basic hair conditioner on dry hair. Combing the hair thoroughly and in small sections and removing eggs has given me great success.

I have seen horrific scaring from kerosene, petrol and other poisons even from those sold over the counter.

I have not yet found a chemical or non chemical solution that kills the tiny eggs (nits). I have found up to 900 lice on one child’s head and hundred upon hundreds of eggs. without a constant detection program and time consuming combing, head lice will thrive in schools and day care centers for a long while to come.

Chemicals are poisons and not worth risking our children’s lives. Before using dangerous harmful chemicals that seep through the scalp and into the blood stream consider alternative non chemical treatments.

Thank you Maryanne Paterson for this information.

A warning regarding the use of products such as Vaseline.  I took a survival course and one of the things that we used for quick fire starting is “Vaseline” (petroleum jelly) soaked cotton swabs.  Just a few sparks from a flint stick and “voila” a fire.  Keep your child’s head away from open flames e.g. candles, cigarettes etc.  Also beware, this is a petroleum product that you are smothering your child’s head with.”

I have to thank Stefan Meyers for the very timely warning.

I have recently heard from two people who have noticed bald patches and/or thinning hair after using two very different proprietary products – one natural, tea tree oil based and the other a more chemical based product.

In view of this I did a little more research and here is my response which I thought may be of interest to others –

I must stress I am not expert.

“I was very concerned when I received your message, as only last week I received a similar one from someone a Tea Tree based natural product who was experiencing the same sort of problem.

I have spoken to my daughter who is a pharmacist here in the UK and she has not read or heard of any such adverse affects being recorded nor is she aware of the ingredients of this type of product being known to have these side effects. Having said that there are many factors involved such as other medication being used, child’s overall health, product being used correctly etc.

She says that the cheapest and most effective remedy is still, plenty of conditioner, thorough combing with a fine tooth comb e.g. Nit Free Terminator (USA) or Nitty Gritty Nit Free (UK) **** and plenty of patience.

She did, however, mention that there is now a product on the market called “Hedrin” which is said to be quite effective as it suffocates these lice rather than poisoning them.

It may be a good idea to consult a doctor as the bald patches may be unconnected to the hair treatment.


This NitFree comb is sometimes available on prescription from your GP or from any prescribing health visitor, nurse or Pharmacist – It is listed in Part IXA (Appliances) of the current Drug Tariff as the Nitty Gritty NitFree Steel nitcomb with microgrooved teeth.

I have come across the following site which clearly states one product has now been discontinued in the UK –
and it is also recommended that if any chemical product does not work then use should be ceased immediately and to avoid using any other chemicals.


I would like to add this to the many head lice remedies I’ve read on your site.
I would like to start by saying that this is something entirely new, which is not toxic, smelly or harmful in anyway to your hair or your health.
It’s an entirely unique approach to snuffing out these hateful little creatures once and for all!
It’s simple, yet the application and procedure IS a bit time consuming.
But for anyone (like me, for instance!) who has done battle against head lice for YEARS, (or even if you are tired of trying this and that and spending money on OTC’s, herbal remedies and even prescription medications that do nothing but make these critters stronger!) this may be the end of the road for head lice in your household.

The product you need to purchase is called Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. (Yes, you read correctly, skin cleanser!) I have not done the research to find out if this product if available in all countries, but as far as I know it’s available anywhere in the U.S. and can be ordered online from any pharmacy or drug store, and can be purchased at stores in the U.S. such as Walgreen’s, Long’s Drug Store, Walmart, Kmart, Target or any store that carries skin care products. It comes in bottles of 8 or 16 ounces, and the size you purchase depends on the length and thickness of your hair, or how many heads need to be treated in your household.  It’s a rather thick lotion, almost odorless, and can be used on even the most sensitive skin.  However, it can sting if it gets into your eyes.

Now that you know what it is and what to purchase, here is a list of other things you will need and directions for use:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  • Applicator bottle, such as the plastic bottles hair dye comes in.

  • A regular hair comb (must be fairly sturdy, as the lotion is very thick)

  • A wide toothed comb (for thick or longer hair, to keep it untangled)

  • A metal lice comb

  • Towel

  • Hair clips for sectioning hair

That’s it!


Start with dry hair and cover your shoulders with a towel. (Cetaphil is very thick so you won’t have much dripping) Use a good metal lice comb to comb out as many nits as possible before you start. Section your hair off in very small sections; it’s extremely important that you coat every strand of hair, and apply the Cetaphil directly to your scalp at each part you make in your hair so that you lessen the chance of missing even ONE louse on your head! Use Cetaphil liberally and massage, massage, massage it in. Even ONE louse left uncoated may survive to reproduce. 

Once you are sure you have covered every strand of hair and every inch of scalp, use a regular (but sturdy comb) to begin combing out the excess lotion.  You may need to use a wide toothed comb first, if your hair is thick or very long. Comb until you have removed as much of the excess Cetaphil as possible.  Once that is done, use a hair dryer to dry your hair. (Use the most powerful hair dryer you have, as the drying process can take up to three times longer than drying after a shower–this is the only really time consuming part of the process, as the Cetaphil takes much, much longer to dry than water.) 

What will happen is that the Cetaphil will dry on your head, hair (and also on the lice), cutting off their source of oxygen, and therefore smothering them.  (In a sense, they will be ‘shrink wrapped’)  Lice can literally survive for hours without breathing, so this must be left on the hair for a minimum of 8 hours.  This can be done before bed, so that the ‘smothering’ process can take place during sleep. You must make SURE that your hair is completely dry in order for the lice to be totally encased in the dried Cetaphil, and therefore be unable to breath.

After 8 hours, wash and dry your hair normally. Use the metal lice comb once again, to comb out any surviving live nits. For best results, you must repeat this treatment three times in one-week intervals to make sure that newly hatching lice do not survive to begin the hatching and reproducing cycle again.

All bedding should be washed after each treatment, as well as any clothing, pajamas or towels used during lice infestation. Combs and brushes should be run through the wash cycle, or can be put in the freezer over night. Carpeting and furniture should be vacuumed, however lice cannot survive away from human heads for longer than 20 hours. We are their ‘food source’, so there is no need to be overly concerned about lice that have fallen to the floor or carpet.  Lice also can not hop, jump or fly, and are only transmitted via head to head contact, or by using a comb or brush used by someone with head lice.  However, they do crawl, so they may crawl from pillow to pillow or crawl onto clothing that is shared or hung close together, such as sweaters and coats hung up closely together in a classroom. 

I do hope that this will be of help to you, and I look forward to hearing about anyone who has tried this treatment and has had the same success I’ve had!