If you get head lice, you know you need to seek treatment right away. While head lice are not known to spread disease, it is still an infection that needs to be taken care of right away. However, a lot of you might be wondering if there are any risks associated with head lice treatment.
Can head lice treatment potentially damage your scalp or your hair? Are these treatments safe to use on children? We are here to help explain everything you need to know, including what popular treatments are, their effectiveness, and any potential side effects they might have.
What Is Used to Treat Head Lice?
Head lice, as you probably already know, are tiny parasitic insects that attach to human hair. They feed off of the blood on your scalp in order to survive. Treating head lice involves eradicating the head lice, the head lice eggs (called nits), and removing them completely from the hair. You’ll also have to be sure to thoroughly clean the house where the infested person is living. Head lice can sometimes be found in a person’s clothing, bedding, towels, hair accessories and tools, and even on furniture or rugs.
While head lice will not survive for long when detached from their food source, there is still a small chance that while they are still alive they can infest someone else. Part of treatment includes cleaning the house to ensure all head lice are dead and gone. While head lice cannot jump or fly, they can still move around and can crawl and infest another person’s head. This typically occurs by direct head to head contact, but can happen if a person comes into contact with head lice on any of the above items we just listed.
As for treatment of the hair, typical head lice treatments that you find at your local drugstores or grocery stores contain pesticides that eliminate the head lice. Common pesticides are pyrethrin and permethrin. These pesticides come in shampoos and treatments that are applied to hair to help destroy all head lice and nits.
You can also use what is known as a lice comb to manually comb out all head lice and nits from hair. Because head lice are so small, it is not recommended that this is your only treatment plan. Lice combs are great for confirming a person has head lice, and is useful in checking after treatment that all nits are gone, but is risky as your only source of treatment.
What are Common Side Effects?
There are two main categories of side effects that are associated with typical head lice treatment. One category is that of actual side effects to a person using the treatment, and the other deals with long term side effects of this treatment.
There are some side effects associated with a person using a typical pyrethrin/permethrin treatment. Because this is a harsh treatment (it is a pesticide you are using after all) there is a risk for things like skin irritation and rashes. You may experience a burning sensation and an irritated scalp after using treatment, however typically side effects are not worse than that.
If you are worried that treatment will damage your scalp or your hair, you don’t really need to worry. Long term damage is not associated with this head lice treatment. If you are frequently getting lice and having to use this treatment, however, you might want to consider using something else. These pesticides can absorb into your body as they are applied to your head and your scalp.
There is some research on long term use of treatments like this. There are guidelines present for the use of these shampoos, but if your child is frequently getting head lice at school (for example) you may not even realize that you are breaking these guidelines and are exposing your child to a lot of chemicals in a short period of time.
The other category of side effects is the long term effect of increased resistance to this treatment. Because people so frequently use these chemicals to treat head lice, especially permethrin, it is losing a lot of its effectiveness. For this reason, seeking an alternative treatment is a better option for anyone who gets head lice. Again, as we have mentioned, head lice do not carry disease, but still need to be taken care of. As head lice develop this resistance, you are bound to encounter more cases of head lice. This results in more missed days from school and more time spent to purchase and apply treatment, comb hair, and clean the house.
Are There Alternative Treatment Options?
Absolutely. In fact, alternative treatments are better options for your hair and for treating head lice. Should you get head lice, consider purchasing a natural treatment that will eradicate head lice without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals. These treatments are safe to use on anyone, including children, and eliminate head lice just like you need. Best of all, head lice cannot build up a resistance to this type of treatment, so you do not have to worry about them becoming ineffective over time. If you have young children in school (which is the age group most susceptible to getting head lice), it is in their best interest to treat them with natural products that have no risk of causing health issues. Even without research, it is common sense that it isn’t a good idea to regularly treat your child with chemicals and pesticides.
Are The Alternatives Effective?
Yes! Natural treatments are just as effective as typical over the counter treatments, they just handle the process of eliminating head lice in a natural way, as opposed to using a pesticide or chemical to do so. These treatments either mimic the molting process of the head lice, or use ingredients like sodium chloride to dehydrate and destroy the head lice.
You will find that these treatments do just as good of a job of getting rid of head lice, and you can feel safer knowing that you aren’t exposing your children (or yourself) to potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Don’t wait for more research to surface on the dangers of pesticides. Also, don’t waste your time using treatments that are becoming increasingly ineffective! These products are dangerous, less effective, and can cause adverse side effects like rashes, irritation, and itchy and inflamed scalps. Instead, go the all natural path. It’s safer and more effective. Enough said!