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Consumer Protection Program Tests Home Remedies for Lice—They Don’t Work

Verify is a consumer protection program of WUSA Channel 9 in Washington, D.C., that, in its own words: “Is on a mission to separate fact from fiction in news and social media. We respect truth above all and believe in transparency.”

The program took on the issue of head lice to answer the question, “Does coconut oil and vinegar treat head lice?”

“A viewer read on Facebook that coconut oil and apple cider vinegar can help kill and remove head lice,” the program states on its website. “She asked us to verify whether it’s true.”

The short answer: “Nope.”

To answer the question, the Verify team dug into research on the topic and interviewed authorities on head lice treatment.

The Facebook post claimed that vinegar dissolves the glue that holds lice eggs to hair, but research showed that the glue is made of compounds similar to human hair. So if vinegar dissolved the fastening agent of eggs, it would also dissolve hair.

The team also cited research from scientists at the University of California that studied at-home remedies including vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter, and petroleum jelly for their efficacy at controlling head lice. The study found that “None of the home remedy products we surveyed was an effective means of louse control.”

There’s more bad news for treating head lice at home. Most of the products sold at drugstores are also ineffective because, over the years, lice have developed immunity to their active ingredients. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that 98 percent of head lice in the United States now carry a genetic resistance to pyrethroids, the class of pesticides used in the most popular lice treatment products. Pyrethroids have also been linked to behavioral and developmental problems in children.

Now for some good news. Lice Clinics of America®, the world’s largest network of professional lice treatment centers, has developed a high-tech medical device that is cleared by the FDA and clinically shown to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of eggs in a single hour-long session. The device, called AirAllé®, uses microprocessor-controlled heated air to dehydrate lice and eggs. It is pesticide free and equally effective against pyrethroid-resistant lice and non-resistant lice. Treatment is applied by certified operators and is guaranteed to be effective.

The AirAllé was developed by scientists at the University of Utah and is now used in more than 350 clinics in 36 countries. The device has treated some half million cases of head lice with a success rate better than 99 percent.

There is also good news for home remedies. For families that don’t live near a clinic or that prefer to treat lice at home, a home version of AirAllé, called OneCureTM is now available. OneCure uses the same FDA-cleared technology as AirAllé® and is also guaranteed to be effective when used as directed.  It’s a home remedy proven by science and medicine.

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