Does Hair Dye Actually Kill Lice?

Does Hair Dye Actually Kill Lice?

Does hair color kill lice? This isn’t typically something most people would take seriously but the moment you or your child has the misfortune of getting head lice, anything can be worth considering. So, is it true? Can hair dye kill lice?

Technically, yes, some hair dyes can kill adult lice. There are several caveats here, however:

  1. Only permanent hair dyes stand a chance at killing head lice as they are the ones that include ammonia and, usually, hydrogen peroxide, both of which are corrosive enough to kill head lice. Ammonia, in particular, produces an irritating gas which can be quite effective. Semi- and demi-permanent hair dyes, however, as well as temporary dyes won’t be effective against head lice at all.
  2. So, will hair dye kill head lice if it’s permanent – sure, but not immediately. At the end of the day, hair dye wasn’t designed with that effect in mind, so, for particularly bad head lice infestations you’d either want to apply it several times and in large doses (which won’t be the best thing you can do for your hair) or you can do the smart thing and just visit a doctor instead.
  3. Even the strongest permanent hair dyes will be unlikely to kill the head lice’s nits (i.e., their eggs). The nits of lice have a very strong casing and are typically placed on our hairs very securely so even a strong dye with a lot of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide in it wouldn’t be able to kill the nits. This means that if you don’t apply the dye before the lice have had a chance to lay their eggs – which they do almost immediately – you won’t solve the overall problem with just hair dye alone.

So, in short, does dying your hair kill lice? While strong permanent hair dyes can indeed be effective against hair dyes – hence why this is a popular belief among many people – they really aren’t an ideal solution. The best thing you can do is to simply visit your doctor and use the specialized products which can deal with both the lice and their nits much more effectively.

Does hair bleach kill lice as well?

Yes, hair bleach includes strong chemicals such as ammonium persulfate, stearyl alcohol, hydrogen, and others, which can all be quite effective against lice but will likely leave a significant portion of their nits alive. So, again, we’d recommend that you steer toward the more traditional medical options.

What’s the most effective way to deal with head lice?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends any of the following products to be used according to its instructions. They also point out that you should use only one product at a time and not mix them:

  • Malathion (Ovide)
  • Spinosad topical suspension (Natroba)
  • Lindane
  • Ivermectin lotion (Sklice)
  • Benzyl alcohol lotion (Ulesfia)

They also point out that using a lice comb is quite effective at getting rid of nits.

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