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A cheap and easy way to get rid of head lice

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
"Selifes" might be causing an increase in head lice: Here is a cheap and easy way to get rid of them

If you or your child has ever been plagued with head lice you already know special products to remedy the problem can be expensive. Head louse are not dangerous but they are highly contagious and a nuisance.The little parasites attach to the skin and lay eggs in the hair where they hatch. They can cause significant itching, red bumps and tiny white flecks in the hair that look like dandruff. A new study shows ordinary hair conditioner is just as effective for removing head lice and special shampoos and other products that contain oils and other chemicals.

The finding that is published in the Journal of Medical Entomology is good news for several reasons. It means less cost and a potentially quick remedy for removing head louse from hair conditioner that is probably already in the home.

For their study researchers collected hairs from children that contains the eggs of head lice that contained eggs also called nits.

The scientists tried to removed the eggs to find out how much force is needed to get the eggs off of the hair that normally attach to the base of the hair shaft.

They discovered ordinary hair conditioner made the eggs as easy to remove as over the counter or prescription products sold to treat lice.

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You can try to comb lice eggs out of the hair the researchers note, but hair conditioner made the lice eggs easier to remove, just like special products.

"There were no significant differences in measured forces between the ordinary conditioner and the commercial nit removal product," the authors say. "The commercial nit removal products tested in the current study do not seem to have an additional effect." They also discovered deionized water works to rid the scalp of lice that might also be found in the eyebrows.

Children are especially vulnerable to getting head lice from closed contact with others. A new study also suggests "selfies" are contributing to the spread of the little parasites from people putting their heads literally together for picture taking and social media postings. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen but statistics show head lice infestations are on the rise among teenagers.

Mary McQuillan, who heads two Nitless Noggins treatment centers in California correlates higher rates of head lice among teens and college students to an increase in "selfies". The parasites used to be more common among grade school students.

Ordinary hair conditioner can make it easy to remove lice, according to the Entomological Society of America who specialize in studying "bugs". The new study found the hair products are just as good as special treatment products. You'll want to also buy a lice comb. After applying conditioner, part the hair methodically and comb from the roots to the ends. Rinse the comb after each swipe to dispose of nits in the comb's teeth. If you have difficulty see a health care professional for a prescription product.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons