Dangers of Pesticide Lice Treatments
Chemical treatments for head lice contain potent pesticides and insecticides known as pediculicides. These pediculicides have been known to cause immuno suppression, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, circulatory collapse behavioral changes, neuromuscular damage, chronic skin eruptions, liver damage, asthma, respiratory failure, stillbirths, birth defects, cancer and even death.
Unfortunately, the uninformed parent using treatments containing pesticides may tend to use more, leave them on for longer periods of time or even apply them too often, increasing the risk.
Be sure to visit our page IMMUNE BOOST on how to help heal the immune and nervous systems if you have used Nix, Rid, or any of the other chemical-based lice treatments -- especially if you used them more than once.
Not only are these products dangerous to health, head lice are developing a resistance to pediculicides as evidenced by the articles below.
- ‘Super lice’ leave parents scratching their heads - Stubborn parasites outsmart drugs — and mortify moms
- Harvard School of Public Health: "...any insect (or any organism) may, by chance, have the capacity to avoid, detoxify or eliminate toxins from its body. These few individuals may survive treatment, reproduce and serve to establish a larger population of lice that are less susceptible to that insecticide and perhaps to related compounds."
- Parents are fighting back - read about the class action suit against manufacturers of chemical lice products NIX, RID, CLEAR and A-200
- Head Lice Are Resistant to Common Drug Treatments - "...in January 12, 1998 ... [Time Magazine reported] that lice infestation in America has risen to the epidemic level of 10 to 12 million a year. Today--except for the common cold--head lice infestation is considered the most common communicable childhood disease."
Active Ingredients Most Commonly Used in Other Headlice Treatments
Lindane is the most commonly prescribed pesticide used for treating head lice. Lindane is a moderately toxic compound in EPA toxicity class II. Labels for products containing it must bear the signal word WARNING, meaning a teaspoon to an ounce can be fatal to the "average person." The production or manufacture of Lindane is prohibited in the United States.
Lindane is not only a nerve poison but also a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Lindane has also been reported to have reproductive and endocrine-disrupting effects. Lindane is absorbed quickly through the skin.
For more information on Lindane, including supporting legislation to ban Lindane, see this article.
Also read (articles will open in new browser window)
- FDA Action Shows Grave Dangers Of Lindane Lice Treatment, Says National Pediculosis Association
- GOVERNMENT TO BAN LINDANE? EU Report Slams Dangerous Insecticide. European governments: their findings and reactions.
Malathion is a slightly toxic compound in EPA toxicity class III. Labels for products containing it must carry the signal word CAUTION, meaning an ounce to a pint can be fatal to an adult male of 175 pounds.
Malathion is an organophosphate, a cholinesterase inhibitor. Cholinesterase inhibition in humans can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g. accidents, major spills), respiratory paralysis and death.
Malathion is available as a prescription-only lice remedy called Ovide®. Here is a page explaining the different grades and safety concerns of malathion compiled by Mendicis, the company that manufactures Ovide®.
PYRETHRUMS and PYRETHROIDS: Pyrethrum comes from the chrysanthemum flower. Though naturally derived, pyrethrins are still pesticides which have recently been banned from agricultural use in food production. The concern is that pyrethrins can cause pneumonia, muscle paralysis, death due to respiratory failure, vomiting, and asthma. (But you can still get it in head lice treatments such as NixTM). Pyrethroids are the synthetic chemical counterparts (as contained in RIDTM) that have the same effects.
PERMETHRIN -- Permethrin is a broad-spectrum synthetic pyrethroid insecticide. As above, can cause pneumonia, vomiting, and asthma, muscle paralysis, death due to respiratory failure.
CARBARYL: Carbaryl is a General Use Pesticide (GUP) that is often found in chemical head lice treatments, the formulations of which vary widely in toxicity to the nervous and respiratory systems resulting in nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and excessive salivation. Other symptoms at high doses include sweating, blurring of vision, incoordination, and convulsions.