Many people are thinking of using shampoos for head lice prevention.
But there are some do’s and don’ts, and here are some shampoos to use to prevent head lice, as well as some shampoos that you should avoid when it comes to preventing head lice.
Head lice spread through direct head-to-head contact. The first head lice prevention measure is to avoid those contacts.
It is easy for adults but more difficult for children, who have games that involve head-to-head contacts quite often. In this case you can use some shampoos.
Head lice are attracted to us by our human smell. If this smell is masked by another that has a repelling effect on head lice, then it will keep them away.
This is exactly what essential oils based shampoos can do. You can use a tea tree oil shampoo, a lavender oil shampoo, or a coconut oil shampoo.
Coconut shampoo to prevent head lice
You can use a coconut-scented shampoo or conditioner or you can add a few drops of coconut oil to your regular soft shampoo. Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has been used in many countries as a home remedy against head lice.
Pros: this is a good shampoo to prevent head lice.
Cons: no cons, as there are no side-effects and coconut appears to be safe to use.
Tea tree oil shampoo to prevent head lice
You can either buy one of these ready-made shampoos or you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular soft shampoo.
Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal properties, and have thus the property to kill adult head lice and nymphs.
Pros: it works at preventing head lice because even if you catch a louse it will be killed by the tea tree oil.
Cons: tea tree oil is better as a home remedy when you have an infestation already, than to prevent head lice, because it can have side-effects and be harmful to your health.
Sometimes people may have allergic reactions to tea tree oil, and pure tea tree oil applied to the skin may cause skin irritation, blistering, and itching.
Then, it is not a recommended substance for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Lavender oil shampoo to prevent head lice
You can either buy a ready-made shampoo that contains lavender or you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your regular soft shampoo.
Just like tea tree oil, lavender oil contains terpenoids but much less than tea tree oil: the component terpinen-4-ol has a concentration of 30% to 50% in tea tree oil, but only 4% in lavender oil.
Pros: lavender can work well at preventing head lice and is safer as tea tree oil. It is not toxic and provokes very few skin irritations. It doesn’t have the side-effects of tea tree oil and is safer to use.
Cons: lavender oil shampoos should be used with care anyway, only to prevent head lice but not as an everyday remedy.
Commercial lice killing shampoos
These are shampoos which active ingredients are permethrin like in Nix, pyrethrum like in RID, or malathion.
They should NEVER be used to prevent head lice, as they have no prevention effect. Moreover, they can have side-effects that range from light to severe and should only be used to treat an existing head lice infestation.
Does head & shoulders shampoo prevent you from getting lice?
This is a common question, maybe because some people saw the movie Evolution (2001) where the shampoo was used as a weapon to destroy the alien menace…
Officially, Head & Shoulders shampoo cannot prevent anyone from getting head lice and has no repelling power. This is an anti-dandruff shampoo, nothing more.
However, it is true that many parents have reported some effectiveness of this shampoo to prevent head lice.
Head and Shoulders also contains dimethicone, which is the active ingredient in a lot of newer, one application, head lice treatments.
Dimethicone is a silicone product with a lower viscosity which the lice and eggs aspirate through their pores (which is how they breathe).
Although the dimethicone concentration is lower, repeated use of Head and Shoulders may provide continued head lice protection.