Licefreee—A Spray That Kills Eggs

I didn’t write about what finally resolved our family's second lice encounter immediately, because I was too surprised by the results. Instead I waited eight months until my girls encountered head lice again, so that I could repeat the process and see if we got the same results.

We did.

Backing up a bit … during my daughters’ second bout with head lice, three years after the first, we booked a head lice professional to deal with the problem. After the initial professional treatment removed the live lice and most nits, I had been slacking on the daily combings that were necessary to catch any missed nits.

Why? Maybe because I had two girls instead of one, plus a whole lot of other stuff going on. Maybe I had a bad attitude because I'd spent so much money on the pro treatment and felt like I shouldn't still have to do all this work. Whatever—clearly, the problem lay with me.

Well into the third week of that episode, when we again thought the lice were finally gone and then found an unexpected bug, I decided we were starting over with a new approach. More testing/research for this website … thankfully, I don’t get that many chances to do this testing. So wanted to take advantage of it. :-)

I was sure the new approach wouldn't work, because I had it in my head that no topical product really kills nits … but what could it hurt to try? I bought two bottles of sodium chloride solution spray (Licefreee) - which basically claims to use salt to dehydrate and kill both lice and nits.

Results

It worked. It totally worked. It was easy to apply - I saturated my girls' hair while they watched a movie. Then we let it dry on their hair overnight, and washed it out in the morning.

We nit-combed that following day, finding no lice. Then did our spotty comb-outs every few days after that, just as we had been, but we never found another bug. We did repeat the treatment one week later, exactly the same way, despite finding no evidence of lice, just in case.

I was SO surprised and pleased by this result!

In the months since, a study has been published in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy, which specifically compared the effectiveness of Licefreee to the typically recommended permethrin treatment (Nix). The protocol was one treatment of either product, with a repeat treatment seven days later only if remaining head lice were observed. (75% of the permethrin group required retreatment, and 25% of the Licefreee group.) The final study results reported a success rate for permethrin of 45%; the success rate for Licefreee was 85%. Wow.

Another Success

One month after the second treatment, when I did an obsessively thorough combing, found nothing, and felt absolutely certain we were really free of head lice, I decided I would keep this stuff on hand and try just one treatment if we ever got head lice again.

We didn't re-start our preventative measures … and my girls remained lice-free for eight months. When my younger daughter picked up head lice again somewhere, I whipped out the Licefreee and treated both girls and myself (even though a comb-check appeared to clear me along with my older daughter … I just don't trust my ability to spot these nits any more. They're too tiny!)

Just one Licefreee treatment this time. A week after using it, I combed the girls' hair and found nothing. No bugs. No nits. I knew there had to be some dead nits in my younger daughter's hair, because she'd had live bugs before treatment, and I hadn't combed or removed any nits. So that's confirmation that my aging eyes are just not seeing these microscopic nits.

Non-Viable Nits

Still, I highly recommend combing out the nits! No product is guaranteed 100% on killing eggs, not even the Lousebuster with a highly trained operator. Treatments that kill eggs as well as live lice put you a huge step ahead … because many of the eggs should be killed (not viable), so if you miss two or three of them during comb-out, you're much less likely to have the process start all over again.

I think how many eggs are actually killed may depend on a couple of factors.

First, following directions carefully to get maximum effect. The Licefreee instructions said to completely saturate the hair. I made sure to do so, concentrating on the girls’ scalps but getting all of their hair wet all the way to the ends. The instructions said to let the hair air-dry, which can take quite a while; therefore we left the product in overnight.

Also (and this is just my theory), I wonder if hair type may affect the success rate of various head lice products. Put simply, the less hair you have, the easier it would be to saturate it all with a product that needs to be in continuous contact with lice and nits in order to work.

Those of us with thin, sparse hair can saturate the hair more easily than those with lots of thick, lovely hair. My daughters have very long hair, but not thick hair, and the strands are baby-fine. We had product left over in every one-dose bottle of Licefreee we used.

If you have children in schools with "no-nit" policies, then even if Licefreee killed all the nits, you would need to remove them with a comb. I do think "no-nit" policies make sense for schools, because you can't tell whether nits contain live or dead eggs by looking at them. However, more and more schools are changing their policies and not sending kids home if nits are spotted with no live lice.

Not For Everyone

One final note about Licefreee … it's non-toxic, and both my girls like the way it smells and how it made their hair soft upon rinsing. It will be our go-to remedy for the girls if we're visited by lice again (as we're almost certain to be).

But it’s certainly not the silver bullet for everyone! When I used it on myself that one time, my scalp started itching within a few hours. I developed red irritation on my neck and back where the product had dripped down on my skin. It wasn't severe, and I actually left it on all night, since this irritation didn't develop until the middle of the night, and it wasn't bad enough to keep me from sleeping. But I'm definitely a little allergic to or sensitive to this spray.

So if I get head lice myself, I plan go back to the enzyme shampoo with more diligent combing. Just as with any product, you should try Licefreee on just a small area of skin, a few hours before using a whole treatment, if you want to check for sensitivity first.

Interesting discussion in the comments section of this Biology Fortified article. (Pre-study publication.) I had read this article and discussion prior to our second bout with head lice, and the comments about Licefreee intrigued me. So glad we ended up having the opportunity to perform a test ourselves!


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