Hair Dye and Lice – An Unusual Treatment

Hair dye and lice seem to have no connection whatsoever but word around the salon circles buzz that this unusual association may just work. Pediculosis or hair lice infestation is an irritating and embarrassing condition. There are a number of treatments for pediculosis. These include using insecticide-laced shampoos and lotions for the hair. Some are from natural insecticides like neem oil. Other preparations are more chemical-based and need a doctor’s prescription to dispense.

It’s understandable that some parents discontinue the use of these products after a few unsuccessful tries. Products like malathion and lindane could have harmful cumulative side effects. Manual extraction with a louse comb is the most effective way of removing the pests but it is time consuming and does not completely prevent re-infestation. Nor does it bring lasting relief to the symptoms.

The hair dye lice treatment stems from the exasperation of some parents over the expense of using over the counter formulas. Fed up with spending many dollars worth of louse treatment lotions and shampoos, they have resorted to hunting for something or anything to give relief to the itching, embarrassment and irritation. Some forums recommend such quaint remedies as mayonnaise, vinegar and mouthwash. These inexpensive and readily available home staples have not been clinically tested although some mothers swear by them.

This is an unusual remedy for killing head lice – the hair dye lice method. Hair lice sufferers have noticed that when they had their hair color-treated at the salon, their hair lice condition improved. Some have even testified that their hair lice have been completely removed. Just what is it in hair dyes or hair coloring materials? Before synthetic coloring materials were invented, natural pigments from plants, flowers and tree bark were used to change or accentuate hair color. Traditionally, henna, a plant extract was used to darken hair while chamomile was used to lighten it. These pigments inevitably faded after some time thus the need for more permanent additives to make the colorants adhere to the hair longer. This was where aniline dyes from coal tar were used for semi-permanent dyes and paraphenylenediamine or PPD for permanent hair dyes. In order for these ingredients to be effective, hair had to be prepared before applying hair color.

The use of hair stripping chemicals was then introduced. The hair shaft was opened by using chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. Dyes using these ingredients are called oxidation dyes. Using more of these chemicals made the hair color lighter in a shorter amount of time. It is these very chemicals that are attributed to the effectively of hair dyes as anti-hair lice agents. Hair has a protein called keratin and it is this substance that the hair shaft openers work on. When the hair shaft opens, the glue that cements the nit to the hair also gets disturbed, releasing the nit in the process. No nits, no future adult lice.

Another ingredient present in hair dyes that may work against hair lice is alcohol. In using kitchen home remedies, some women add Listerine, a mouthwash high in alcohol content to spike their home made formulas. Lice seem to have dislike for the stuff. Hair dyes also have high alcohol content. Its unpleasant side effect is hair dryness since it strips the hair shaft of moisture. Perhaps it is this quality that staves off lice reproduction. If I were a louse, all the other multi-syllabic and unpronounceable ingredients would be more than enough for me to get off anyone’s head.


Source by Don Ellis

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