A parent’s worst nightmare is when their child comes home from school with a head lice. Their first thought is to go the drugstore and buy whatever is available to get rid of these horrible creatures. Over the years the most popular lice treatment brands on the markets have been Rid, Nix and Clear. These treatments have warnings labels not to leave them in the hair for more than 10minutes why??? because they are strong insecticides that can cause adverse effects.
The active ingredients in many of the over the counter drugs used for lice treatments are Permethrin (for Nix) and Pyrethrins (for Rid) are both toxic when in contact with the skin for long periods of time.
Permethrin is chemical classified as a pyrethoid and affect neuron membranes. It has been known to kill livestock parasites in agriculture, used in wheat and cotton farm to kill pesticides and harmful to the acquatic life. According to wikipidia “Permethrin is classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a likely human carcinogen, based on reproducible studies in which mice fed permethrin developed liver and lung tumors… also studies by Bloomquist and team in 2002 suggested a link of permethrin exposure to Parkinson’s disease, including very small (per kg.) exposures.” Shortness of breath, seizsures , headaches and nausea have been attributed to excessive exposure to permethin.
Pyrethrins is natural insectide extracted from the chrysanthemum plant. Since the all natural pyrethrins are strong insecticides Accordin g to the PMEP Staff Cornell unversity webpage: “Semisynthetic derivatives of the chrysanthemumic acids have been developed as insecticides. These are called pyrethroids and tend to be more effective than natural pyrethrins while they are less toxic to mammals.Synthetic pyrethroid compounds vary in their toxicity as do the natural pyrethrins. Pyrethrum carries the signal word CAUTION. Inhaling high levels of pyrethrum may bring about asthmatic breathing, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, incoordination, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, and burning and itching sensations . The most severe poisonings have been reported in infants, who are not able to efficiently break down pyrethrum. The lowest lethal oral dose of pyrethrum is 750 mg/kg for children and 1,000 mg/kg for adults.”
If a lot of parents did a little bit more research on these ingredients in these over the counter lice kits, they would realise they might be putting the children through possible danger. Now do they indeed kill the lice???? Yes they do. They are chemicals, insecticides for that matter and therefore does its job. The problem now is that Louse populations have become resistant to the chemicals used to treat them. In the past one comb-out treatment with these chemicals killed all head lice , but lately multiple treatments does not get the job done. Parents should therefore opt for more natural treatments instead of frying their kids scalps with harmful chemicals which does not even work.
Essential Oils like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil etc have been known kill lice and prevent them. They are able to penetrate the exoskeloton of these bugs and kill them instantly. “Another good factor is the therapeutic chemical constituents that make up essential oils. One essential oil can have anywhere from 200- 800 chemical constituents. It is impossible for a insects to mutate and adapt to the enormous number of chemical constituents in a therapeutic-grade essential oil. Factory produced drugs are made by isolating one or two constituents. Insects can easily mutate and adapt to the drug rendering it useless.” Aromatherapy4u webpage .It is quite alarming to know that FDA would allow the production of harmful chemicals on the market for lice treatment instead on focusing on more natural essential oils. The catch it is cheaper to produce the harmful chemicals and very expensive to extract essential oils therefore these dangerous over the counter medications for lice treatments will continue remain on the market. Parents should focus more natural alternatives to treat lice.