Coal Tar Shampoo to Prevent Lice

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Head lice can be an embarrassing infestation that may lead to public humiliation for you and your children if discovered by a school teacher. Coal tar is the byproduct of turning coal into coke and has been used for treating skin conditions and killing lice when in shampoo form.

Coal Tar and Head Lice

  • Coal tar is a common remedy for many skin conditions, but when used for the killing and prevention of lice, it needs to be in a higher concentration than normal. Coal tar used in skin treatments is only about .5 percent and that will not be strong enough to kill the lice and their eggs. You need to find a shampoo with a concentration of at least 2.5 percent in order for it to be effective as a preventative for lice.

    Coal tar in high doses, such as 5 percent or higher, is considered a carcinogen, but the National Psoriasis Foundation considers it a low cost and effective treatment of skin disorders and lice infestation. Before using coal tar shampoo, you should speak with your doctor to discuss the benefits of the shampoo versus the risks of cancer. Several commercial coal tar shampoos with concentrations less than 5 percent may carry a warning about the carcinogenic properties of coal tar.

Head Lice Process

  • It is best used as as a preventative by using the shampoo regularly to eliminate any risk of potential infestation or if a child in your child's class is determined to have head lice, then using it will decrease the chances of the lice being transferred to your child. When it comes to the process of killing head lice using coal tar, it is important to start by leaving the shampoo in the hair for 25 to 30 minutes before rinsing. You should then go through the hair with a lice brush to get rid of all the lice and their eggs. This should be done for at least three consecutive days to maximize the destruction of the lice infestation.

    After the initial three days, you should still use the shampoo once every two to three days and use the lice brush to eliminate all lice and eggs. Continue until there are no longer any lice or eggs being deposited on the brush.

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