Can Mayonnaise Kill Lice? September 8, 2017

I have only imagined mayonnaise in between my sandwich. Or the bread of my sub. That’s it.

But this thing sounds way different from what I had thought. I mean, mayonnaise for lice? Seriously?

Of course, lice are terribly annoying. Those tiny monsters traversing your scalp day in and day out rob you of your most valuable asset – your peace of mind.

And your hair. Maybe.

Cutting to the chase, does this super-delicious condiment offer some respite from those blood-sucking devils? Can it really do it?

Let’s see.

Mayonnaise – A Brief

Often abbreviated as ‘mayo’, mayonnaise is a thick and creamy dressing that is usually used as a condiment. It is an emulsion of egg yolk, oil, and either lemon juice or vinegar.

Though it might vary in color, it is often white, pale yellow, or cream. In certain countries influenced by the French culture, mustard is also one of the common ingredients.

Mayonnaise For Lice Treatment – Does It (Really) Help?

Mayonnaise For Lice

Image: Shutterstock

The question of the century, probably? There are two sides to this. And both the sides are based on research.

The most common way to use mayonnaise for killing head lice, as suggested by the proponents of this method, is to massage this emulsion into your hair and cover it with a shower cap and hit the bed. You can wash it off in the morning and comb out any dead eggs with a fine comb. You can repeat this once a week or every ten days.

Most people who have tried this method (and seen success) recommend using real, full-fat mayo. There is a possibility that a few nits might survive the treatment – which is why you need to repeat this a week later to remove them as well.

An Israeli study stated that mayonnaise works best only when applied liberally and allowed to stay for over 12 hours (1). And according to a report published by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, ingredients like mayonnaise can be used only for those people who have found no success with medications (2).

Mayonnaise might act as a suffocant. It can suffocate head lice and create an environment unfavorable to their survival (3). Mayo deprives the lice and incubating eggs of air, thereby eliminating them.

It always is best to use mayonnaise in combination with something else – when it comes to treating head lice (4). And though Mayo might work, one must not forget to remove the visible nits with a fine-toothed comb post the treatment (5). Yes, there is evidence that lice would die if immersed in oil (or other ingredients like mayo) for several hours – but one doesn’t know if the lice would meet with a similar fate on someone’s head (6).

Certain other studies state that mayonnaise doesn’t help kill head lice, but instead makes it easy for the individual to comb them out post the treatment (7).

Well, that’s one side of the equation. The other side harbors contradictory findings.

Other equally authentic studies undermine mayonnaise’s ability to eliminate head lice. For instance, one study conducted by the University of California stated that petroleum jelly works best for killing head lice. The study was done on six popular home remedies purported to kill head lice (of which mayonnaise was one), and the results showed that petroleum jelly allowed only 6% of the eggs to hatch post the treatment (8).

One report suggested the use of mayonnaise for this purpose to be dangerous. The relatives of a 1-year-old covered her scalp with mayonnaise and placed a plastic shopping bag over her hair. The child was left unattended for several hours, and the bag slid down suffocating her. Though this could be a fault on the relatives’ part, the suffocative property of mayonnaise must also be considered (9). The report says that mayonnaise, at best, can suffocate the eggs. But it doesn’t kill them.

Though mayonnaise might slow down the lice and even kill some, the lice would survive when it is rinsed the next morning (10). And mayo, when left on the hair for an extended period (especially in hot climates), can make its way into the mouth and cause food poisoning.

One report published by the National Institutes of Health magazine says that tea tree oil could be another helpful remedy for head lice (11).

So, now what?

From what we have seen, the worst that can happen is mayonnaise not working as expected. But, with proper attention, there is no way it could cause severe harm to you or your hair. It either can work wonders or do nothing. But it isn’t going to cause adverse effects. As most parents/individuals using mayonnaise for head lice have reported success, you can give it a shot.

Probably.

And check for yourself how the remedy works. Talking about solutions, we have seen it’s always better to use mayonnaise with some other helpful ingredient.

Now we will see learn about a few of such remedies, and how you can prepare them at your home …

… but before that, there is one thing you must consider. Don’t use low-fat mayonnaise. It might work if you want to lose weight or something. But not here. Nope.

Low-fat mayonnaise will not have enough oil to kill adult lice. It comprises less than 10% of edible oil, water, and egg white by weight – which is nothing much. Always use full-fat mayonnaise in the remedies.

Mayonnaise Home Remedies To Kill Head Lice

If you are wondering how to use mayonnaise to treat head lice, there is one important aspect to remember (we have already discussed this, by the way) – you can’t use mayonnaise alone for the treatment. It may not be as effective as using it with another ingredient.

So, here you go.

1. Mayonnaise with coconut oil

What You Need
  • A small amount of mayonnaise (depends on the length of your hair)
  • A few drops of coconut oil
  • A shower cap
Directions
  1. Combine the mayo and coconut oil in a bowl.
  2. Mix well, and apply the mixture to your hair. Ensure you apply it right from the scalp to the ends of your hair.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and go to bed.
  4. The next morning, dry your hair using a blow-dryer.
  5. Apply shampoo to your hair and leave it as it is for 30 minutes.
  6. Comb through your hair to remove the dead lice.
  7. Wash your hair normally.
  8. Repeat thrice a week.

2. Mayonnaise with vinegar and tea tree oil

What You Need
  • A small amount of mayonnaise
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • A dash of vinegar
Directions
  1. Mix the mayonnaise and tea tree oil in a bowl.
  2. To this, add the vinegar.
  3. Mix well and apply the mixture to the hair, from the scalp to the ends.
  4. Leave it as it is for about 2 hours.
  5. Shampoo your hair thoroughly.
  6. While your hair is still wet, comb out the dead lice from your hair.
  7. Repeat twice a week.

How Long Must One Leave Mayonnaise On Their Hair?

We have already discussed this. For best results – the longer, the better. If you are not in a hurry, you can leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning.

And a few important things …

Tips And Precautions

  • Ensure you use a very tight-fitting shower cap. Never use a plastic wrap or a plastic bag.
  • The overnight treatment must not be used on a very young child. In fact, it must not be used on any child who might pull strands out of the shower cap and chew on them. Mayonnaise turns rancid after a few hours. Which means it definitely is not safe to be ingested.
  • Not everyone can stand the smell of mayonnaise. If you want to try mayo, first make sure everyone at your home would be okay with the smell. If not, you probably must try the remedy elsewhere.
  • Never use petroleum products like kerosene or gasoline. Neither should you use insect or ant poisons. Not even pet shampoos.
  • Try your best to remove every nit. Don’t rely on the mayonnaise treatment alone. The only cure for lice is the 100% removal of all the eggs.
  • Create a louse-free environment around you. Clean or vacuum the places where people are likely to put their heads. These can include chairs, sofas, and even the seats in your car. Clean them daily. This must happen at least a week before and a week after your hair lice treatment. Oh yes, you must keep doing this otherwise too. But special care must be taken 7 days prior and 7 days later.
  • Never try on caps or scarves at the store before purchasing them. If you want to buy them, do so. And then run them through a hot dryer or wash them before use, if possible.
  • Examine the hair of all the members of your household and make it a practice to remove all the nits every single day. Personal hygiene pays huge dividends in the long run.
  • If you are using a head louse shampoo, make it a point to read the instructions carefully. Never over treat your hair with the thought of doing away with all head lice in one go. Certain head louse shampoos can be neurotoxic, and overuse can harm the nervous system.
  • Post the treatment, remember to comb. And comb you must deeply into the strands as close to the scalp as possible. Also, more important it is to clean off the louse eggs from your comb before you comb again.

Also …

Don’t Worry If The Remedies Don’t Work

Like we already saw, there is clear evidence that mayonnaise (or any other ingredient for that matter) works for killing head lice. Your experience is your best teacher – at least in this regard.

So if the remedies don’t work, don’t fret. There are a number of reasons head lice treatments may not work –

  • Head lice infestation may not have caused the symptoms of head lice (like itching of the scalp, neck, and ears, especially).
  • The treatment may have been applied after rinsing the hair with a hair conditioner. The conditioners can act as barriers that keep the head lice treatment from penetrating the hair shafts. This might have reduced the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Retreating too soon after the first treatment might also make it ineffective. Doing so can prevent one from allowing all the nits to be hatched and killing the newly formed head lice.
  • The head lice could be resistant to the treatment. In such an eventuality, you can consult your healthcare provider to know if you had used the treatment correctly. If not, (s)he might recommend you a product that might actually show results.
  • Reinfestation, probably. Maybe the lice were successfully eliminated. But the individual perhaps got infested again. This can happen if the individual reshampoos hair too soon (in less than 2 days) after proper treatment. This could also happen if personal hygiene is not maintained.

Conclusion

Home remedies like mayonnaise haven’t been extensively studied to prove their efficacy. Mayonnaise is a harmless treatment, which is why you can try and see how it works. But it can get messy and hard to wash – so keep that in mind. You can use a degreasing soap if the mess is too much to remove.

Try it out. You have nothing to lose, right?

And tell us how this post has benefited you. Do comment in the box below.