P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail:


(Sharing Information on Toxics in Everyday Life

& Providing Healthier Alternatives)


head lice  nits  nontoxic treatments Nontoxic Treatment for Head Lice


Head lice are present on even the cleanest scalps, and are a ubiquitous scourge of school age children. The first symptom is usually an intensely itching scalp. A later sign is the appearance of adult lice and their eggs, called nits.  Lice are spread through the sharing of combs and brushes, the exchanging of coats, sweaters, scarves and caps, and close contact, such as by sharing a bed during a sleepover.  Nits can live 3 weeks on bedding, upholstered furniture and in carpeting, as well as clothing or on the head. The very real prospect or re-infestation is present, and treatment options are few.


The classic approach is to use a medicated product such as Nix, or occasionally the more toxic Kwell shampoo, which is usually reserved for scabies. Both are linked to side effects from rashes, breathing problems, to permanent neurological deficits.  A nontoxic home rememdy, which Doctors and nurses will tell you about-if you ask-is yours for the price of one jar of regular (not lowfat or fat free) mayonnaise. Besides the proven effectiveness to kill lice and their nits, this treatment has the added bonus of conditioning the hair!


Any family member with visible lice and nits should be treated. Since this has a beneficial result, it can also be used by all friends or family members. Additionally carpets and cloth sofas and chairs should be vacuumed thoroughly.  All bedding and clothing worn should be laundered in hot water. If there is a quantity of clothing in the laundry basket, treat this all as if it were infested. Special care should be taken with stuffed animals or other items children sleep with.  These should be placed in plastic bags, sealed and kept out of reach for three weeks.  Three weeks is the magic number-the outside length of time nits can survive off the body.


Mayonnaise Treatment:


Liberally coat the dry hair with enough mayonnaise to leave a visible coating on the hair and scalp.  Special care should be taken behind the ears and on the neck, as these are favorite spots for blood-sucking vermin.  Leave on the hair 3 to 4 hours.  Use of inexpensive shower caps are helpful but other plastic wrap can do in a pinch.


Shampooing and Rinsing  After a minimum of three hours, the lice and nits have been smothered.  You may now shampoo the hair. As the mayonnaise is oily it may take two shampooings to get it all out.  Lightly towel dry the hair.  Nits have a glue like paste that causes them to adhere to the hair shaft.  In order to remove this glue you will need to rinse the washed hair with a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar.  If treating more than one person you may rinse the hair using a pitcher over a plastic basin and reuse the vinegar rinse.


Now it is time to comb the hair with a comb, preferrably a fine tooth one.  Hence the name "with a fine tooth comb".  Of course this should be a clean comb, otherwise you will risk re-infestation.  Combs and brushes may be soaked in a basin of 5% (normal household) bleach, then rinsed thoroughly before reuse.  NOTE:  Bleach is not recommended by TIP – other natural disinfectant is preferred))


Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc




Some Useful Links & Tips





Using Olive Oil
From: Someone Who's Been There
After going through months of horrendous yet futile activities including harmful chemical shampoo to get rid of these dreadful critters, a friend told me to saturate the dry hair with olive oil, place a towel over the pillow and leave on overnight. The next day soak the hair again with olive oil and leave on for a few more hours. Shampoo. Remove nits. Repeat in 10 days. What a natural, wonderful relief.


Use Tea Tree Oil to Treat Head Lice
From “A Helpful Person”,

I have found that you can prevent head lice if you use "tea tree oil" you can find it in health food stores. I have also found it at Walmart. You put it in your shampoo and use it whenever you wash your hair.


Another Resource (Recommending a Special Comb)

National Pediculosis Association


From “The Complete Medicinal Herbal” by Penelope Ody, pp. 176-77:


Put a few drops of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on a comb and comb hair well.

Add 5 to 10 ml (1 to 2 teaspoons) oil to shampoo or hair rinse. Repeat use daily.


Apple cider vinegar will help loosen the eggs by dissolving the glue that holds them to the hair shafts. Use it as a rinse after shampooing.


Please note that treatments may need to be repeated every 3 to 7 days to be completely sure all the lice have been removed or killed. The same holds true for commercial preparations.


Non-Toxic Treatment for Head Lice (Mayonnaise-based)



Opportunities for discussion of this, and information about other topics are available from:  Toxics Information Project (TIP), Tel. 401-351-9193 or E-Mail:


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