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CAPS NOTE: In early September, California's Governor Gray Davis signed a bill prohibiting the sale or use of the pesticide lindane for treatment of lice and scabies. (click for the full story)
The DDT-style chlorinated pesticide has been found to cause neurological problems and death especially among children. The chemical has been banned in Europe and officials in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are targeting a North American plan to reduce or eliminate the toxin.
The following is a reprint from www.safe2use.com which outlines concerns associated with toxic 'over-the-counter' head lice products and offers parents information on how to diagnose the problem with suggestions on safe alternatives to eliminate head lice.
PESTICIDE-FREE Head Louse Control
Reprinted with permission - www.safe2use.com
Head lice spread easily and infestations often occur at all social and economic levels, especially among school children who are in close daily contact. At least 10 million children are infected each year. Infestations are called pediculosis, which is a communicable disease. They vary in color from dirty white to reddish-brown to rust to grayish black in color. If the nymphal stages are passed on a person of blonde or light coloration, the adult louse is light in color, but if they are passed on a person of dark hair coloring, then the resulting wingless adult is more pronounced in coloration. They are small - about the size of a sesame seed. They need a warm, moist habitat. They spread by crawling we have had some reports of a strain that appears to "jump". They live by biting and sucking blood from the scalp and can not normally survive for more than 2 days unless they are on the human head. Head lice aren't nice.
The diagnosis can be difficult as the insects tend to hide among the hair shafts in response to light or disturbance. Use a comb with parallel teeth spaced 0.3 mm or less apart and examine under a bright light or in sunlight. A study in Israel found 70% of infested children had only 1 to 10 lice. The real control problems are the nits that remain on the hair shaft (even if no longer on the head) and can hatch and "reinfest" for up to 10 days later, so soak your head with olive oil or baby oil overnight and cover with a shower cap; then use a metal nit comb and then shampoo with a conditioner in the a.m. or simply wash your hair with Not Nice to LiceŽ Shampoo for 10 minutes or until the nits pull away and then rinse off the enzymes, lice and nits.
When combing out nits, work with small sections (1" or smaller) of hair. Keep the metal comb's teeth deep into the hair from the scalp to the end of the hair. Clean your louse comb after each stroke in Kleen KillŽ enzyme or hot soapy water. Keep the hair moist (use a spray bottle of diluted enzymes). Adding baby or olive oil and/or a conditioner may make the combing of nits out of the hair easier. Only after trying all of the alternatives, and then only as a last resort, there are several over-the-counter poison preparations that can be used to try to eliminate louse infestations, but we believe they are all equally ineffective and dangerous even when used according to label directions.
Look at your over-the-counter head lice shampoo warnings and ingredients very closely. The RidŽ 0.5% permethrin spray says, "THIS PRODUCT IS NOT FOR USE ON HUMANS OR ANIMALS. Avoid breathing spray mist. Avoid contact with skin. Use only in well ventilated areas. Avoid spraying in eyes. In case of contact wash immediately with soap and water. Vacate room after treatment and ventilate before reoccupying." The Nix 1% permethrin shampoo (which is twice as strong) says leave on the (child's) hair for 10 minutes but no longer and notes, "This product may cause breathing difficulty or an asthmatic episode in susceptible persons, etc." The 1995 Physician's Desk Reference notes that in all 3 mouse studies there was an increased increased incidence of pulmonary alveolar - cell carcinomas and benign liver adenomas in female mice at a concentration of 5000 ppm of the active ingredient permethrin in their food.
This shampoo also has several interesting "inert" ingredients including isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, etc. The propylene glycol MSDS says, "Avoid skin contact"; it is used in industry as antifreeze, airplane deicer and brake fluid. It can cause skin irritation, dermatitis, erythematous plaques, CNS depression, stupor, seizures, nausea, stinging, irritation, redness, etc. The isopropyl alcohol MSDS notes it can enter into people through inhalation, skin and/or ingestion and may cause irritation to eyes and to the respiratory tract, is an anesthetic and may also cause CNS depression. Both MSDS sheets for these "inerts" require respirators or air supplied masks in confined areas and goggles and protective gloves! Propylene glycol suggests impervious clothing and equipment!
The California Department of Health Sciences warned in a 1996 report there is "circumstantial evidence" of increased head lice resistance to poisons. School health workers all over the U. S. have been saying for years the pesticide poisons "registered" for scalp use were not working any more. Prescription poison preparations, e.g., lindane, may permanently harm the patient in the attempt to kill the eggs as well as live lice. The poison "cure", obviously, is far worse than the "disease".
We do not believe any of the over-the-counter poison preparations are safe or that they even control lice - recently some "health" directives, e.g., The Children's Hospital Oakland Highlight Nov. 1996 - also said these poisons do not work as directed and they have mislead people by saying you must leave these poisons on for 3 - 8 hours (under a shower cap)! See Chapter 13 and Chapter 1 on Permethrin as a poison. An Israeli study published in the British journal "Medical and Veterinary entomology" in 1995 noted that Israeli scientists blamed permethrin in particular for the head lice resistance they found.
"The results suggest that resistance to pyrethroids has developed rapidly among head lice since permethrin was introduced (in Israel) in 1991." The first application supposedly kills all of the live lice. Viable nits hatch in 6 - 10 days and the second application supposedly kills that new population. These lousicides (poisons) are applied to wet hair and after a short waiting period they are shampooed out. (Remember, most researchers and health officials will tell you virtually any olive oil or soap shampoo, or peppermint soap or natural soap without these poisons will kill or wash away the lice, so simply wash your head with any shampoo daily for 2 weeks.) Advise family members they should first try hand removal with a metal nit or flea comb, a baby oil treatment, a sauna (if your doctor permits) and/or wash with natural soap, neem soap or Kleen KillŽ peppermint soap, or with Kleen KillŽ enzymes, or Not Nice to LiceŽ shampoo with enzyme cleaners, and a metal lice or metal flea comb and then rinse off and apply a hair conditioner. Repeat the same process in 10 days at least be careful to not get any Not Nice to LiceŽ shampoo with enzyme cleaners in the eyes - even natural soap burns the eyes.
Wash bedding and towels in hot water and knit caps in cold water and Kleen KillŽ enzymes and borax and dry at least 20 minutes in a clothes dryer to be sure any nits on fallen hairs are killed or removed.
Vacuum all surfaces where children lie or play (including stuffed toys). (In day care centers and kindergartens, napping mats should be wiped with Kleen KillŽ enzymes and/or routinely vacuumed.) Discard the bag. Routinely mop and clean with Kleen KillŽ enzymes and/or borax. Daily vacuum and clean rugs or simply quarantine them for 10 - 14 days after vacuuming. Remember, never apply synthetic pesticide poisons to rooms, toys, or furniture surfaces. Store all other exposed items in bags for 2 weeks or dry clean. Don't forget to vacuum the car and all (upholstered) furniture.
Try hand or manual removal of nits using bobby pins, hair-clips, grooming combs, nit/flea removal combs, safety scissors, tweezers, scotch tape and a magnifying glass and a bright light, etc. Then disinfect by soaking these items and all other hair ornaments, brushes and combs in 130o F. hot water (or Kleen KillŽ enzyme water) for 15 minutes.
Thoroughly check all family members at the same time and treat only those who are infected. It is very interesting that usually only young children get head lice and that even regular soap shampoos have removed head lice (but not their nits). Little children hate to wash their hair and cry when the soap gets in their eyes; as we get older and wash our hair more often, the incidence of head lice declines dramatically. Even if they cry, thoroughly and routinely wash the children's heads with Kleen KillŽ peppermint soap, soap with anise oil, neem soap, natural soap or Not Nice to LiceŽ Shampoo with enzyme cleaners.
Caution: 90% of all commercial soap shampoos use a detergent called sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and/or sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) that can be retained in tissues up to 5 days even after a single drop. Dr. Keith Green noted (SLS) causes improper eye development in children. SLS has a tendency to react with other ingredients to form NDELA, a nitrosamine and potent carcinogen. Researchers actually estimate the nitrate absorption of one soap shampoo is equal to eating a pound of bacon! The FDA has recently warned shampoo manufacturers of unacceptable levels of dioxin in products containing SLES. SLS is a skin irritant that can penetrate and impair the skin barrier. SLS can also enhance the allergic response to other toxins and allergens per "Dangerous Beauty" by David Lowell Kern. We do not advise their use.
Remember, decisions on the formulation/use of dangerous lousicide, treatment of head infections from extensive infestations, and so forth, are decisions that still should be made by parents and physicians. If you suspect a personal infestation, first try Not Nice to LiceŽ, baby oil, olive oil and/or sauna and/or daily shampoo with Not Nice to LiceŽ, borax, neem soap, Kleen KillŽ peppermint soap, diluted Kleen KillŽ enzyme cleaners or simply Prell and vinegar before going to the doctor. All reported louse infestations of adolescents and adults should then be investigated by a physician; if live lice are not seen, the nits (if any) should be examined through a microscope to verify that they are not symptoms of other scalp conditions.
Spend most of your time vacuuming and working on the infested person - not on cleaning or spraying the area with toxic poisons. If you clean, thoroughly vacuum and then use Kleen KillŽ diluted enzyme cleaners or Kleen KillŽ peppermint soap. We do not recommend any volatile pesticide poisons. Caution: when the "normal" poison treatments don't work, some physicians prescribe stronger doses of permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid, a 5% solution rather than the 1% in NixŽ. But, if lice become resistant to the weaker solution, it is likely they will also resist the stronger dose (eventually) as well...and remember...the warning on the box of RidŽ and/or Brite-LifeŽ regarding "their" synthetic pyrethroid, "Not for use on humans or animals!" Some over-the-counter poison shampoos warn you not to put these poisons on scalps that have been cut or scratched, yet virtually everyone scratches their head when they are infested with head lice. If you want some interesting reading, read the MSDS for all of the unregistered, untested "inerts" in these poisons. .
(Web Mistress Note: A little license was taken with title and some emphasis. However, the content is correct as it appears in "The Best Control") NOTE TO READERS: Please feel free to print this page. All we ask if you use this material is a reference to where you got it.
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