When your family is facing a head lice infestation, you need help fast. So, you trek down to the local Walgreen’s and choose one of the over-the-counter lice treatment products. Before you head off to the checkout, slow down a minute and really look at what those products contain.
We’ve compared the active ingredients, chemical makeup and warnings on the packages of three popular brands of lice treatment products. You may be quite surprised at some of the dangerous chemicals and warnings found in all but one of the shampoos we looked at. Here’s how it breaks down:
Nix (Permethrin) Lice Treatment
The product claims to kill lice and their eggs with a single application, and prevent re-infection for up to two weeks. It is a “full prescription strength” product, which makes us wonder why it’s not a prescription product. The family pack contains two bottles of creme rinse, and two nit removal combs. The package says it’s “approved for use on children over 2 months of age.”
The active ingredient in Nix is Permethrin, which, according to the National Institutes of Health’s website, may cause skin irritation, rash, redness and swelling. It is dangerous to get into the eyes, nose or mouth, and may cause an asthma attack in sensitive individuals. It functions as a neurotoxin, and is highly toxic to cats and fish as well as insects.
RID Lice Killing Shampoo
This shampoo and conditioner in one product claims to be the most effective at treating head lice. It is recommended for adults, and children over two years of age. It advises that a second treatment be done within 7 – 10 days of the initial treatment, and the package includes a nit removal comb.
The active ingredients are piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrum extract, derived from the chrysanthemum plant. There have been published reports of severe respiratory distress in humans exposed to pyrethrum dust, making the product potentially dangerous to children or family members who have asthma, allergies or other respiratory ailments.
Jolis Cheveux Lice Treatment Products
A new addition to over the counter head lice treatment is this line of natural and organic products, created by a pediatrician. The product is available in shampoo, conditioner or scalp conditioner. The product is marketed as safe and entirely non-toxic.
Among the active ingredients in the Jolis Cheveux lice treatment products are aloe juice, cocamidopropyl betaine (a non-irritating and common base in many household shampoos), and essential oils. While natural and non-toxic, the company does recommend that you check with your doctor before using on anyone younger than five years of age.