Lice: Do Head & Shoulders, Denorex, Selsun Blue or T-Gel Kill Lice?

dandruff shampoo

Discover the truth about lice and dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders, Denorex, Selsun Blue, and T-gel. Can they kill lice? 

If you have head lice, you want to get rid of it, and fast! 

You may have already tried several rounds of over the counter treatments that have failed. Or, you’re just looking for an easier and less expensive way to treat lice. 

Parents around the world are all asking me the same question….

Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice? 

Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment and that doing the trick. The new strain of head lice is no longer killed by those treatments, that’s why lice today are termed by people, “super lice,” because they can’t be eliminated with treatments that used to work. 

That's why

75% of people that use over-the-counter treatments still have lice after multiple treatments.

Most people with lice are stuck in the “never-ending lice cycle” that looks like this…

You discover lice, you spend hours treating, nit-picking, house cleaning 

You think it’s gone for a few weeks…

But, then it’s back again!

Sound familiar? This cycle will repeat over and over again until you change what you’re doing.

You’ve heard that dandruff shampoo can kill lice. Is it true?

This article answers the following questions (feel free to hyperlink to any topic):

Do These Shampoos Kill Lice? (Experiments)

Do Dandruff Shampoos Kill Lice Eggs?

Do Dandruff Shampoos Prevent Lice?

stop sign and watch (1)

WATCH THE VIDEO TO BE SUCCESSFUL

THERE ARE 5 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW IF YOU WANT TO GET RID OF LICE WITH A HOME REMEDY!

Before reading this article you should WATCH THE VIDEO above so that you can learn these 5 things and be successful.

Here are a few of the key points covered in the video:

  1. Some home remedies help with lice and some make lice way WORSE (find out which ones in the video).
  2. Lice can play dead (learn what I mean in the video)
  3. What's DANGEROUS?
  4. Lice eggs/nits and home remedies
  5. Home remedy treatment plan

 

Here are the links to the two articles I talk about in the video...

37 Home Remedies- The Good, the Bad, The Dangerous

How to Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! (ONE DAY, NO RE-TREATMENTS)

Super Lice

lice face

First, you should know that if you are struggling with head lice, it is not your fault. The current strain of head lice is immune to pesticides found in over the counter treatments and prescriptions. So most treatments won’t kill lice, no matter how long you leave them on.

Lice today are called “super lice” because they have genetic mutations that make them immune to most treatments. They are challenging to kill.

Multiple studies have proven that lice are immune to treatments that worked in the past. But, many parents will buy a big named product 5 or 6 times before finally giving up and trying something else. 

Are you better off using a home remedy like Head & Shoulders or Denorex?

Before talking about whether or not dandruff shampoos kills lice, you should ask yourself a critical question...

Do you want to kill lice or GET RID OF LICE???

Because there’s a big difference! Killing lice today, does NOT get rid of lice. If you focus all of your energy on killing lice bugs, you will NEVER get rid of lice! 

Here’s why...

When you have lice you have 2 problems, lice bugs, and lice eggs. Often people focus all of their attention on lice bugs, but neglect the much bigger problem- LICE EGGS! Those eggs are full of little lice bugs, just waiting to hatch and start this whole lice cycle all over again! That’s why you keep getting lice back!

There’s no lice treatment or home remedy out there that kills lice eggs, except the technique I use.

It’s the only thing guaranteed to get rid of lice in ONE DAY, without any retreatments, because it kills all of the lice bugs and lice eggs. If you plan on using a home remedy and store-bought lice treatment you can get rid of lice, but you should plan on it taking about 3 weeks and multiple treatments.

Dandruff Shampoos vs. Lice: The Experiments

lice near the jar

Because being a “lice expert” is my full-time job I’ve tested just about every home remedy out there. After reading a few claiming “miracle cures” involving dandruff shampoos, I decided to test each of these shampoos on head lice.

Because I help people with lice every day, testing home remedies is easy for me to do.

jar of lice

I collected several live lice from a client of mine.
Then I applied products to the lice, waited 30 minutes, and then checked for signs of life.

T-gel

I tested the following products:

Head and Shoulders Shampoo

Coal Tar Shampoo (Denorex and T-gel)

Selsun Blue 

The Results

Not a single one of these dandruff shampoos killed lice. All lice were active within 15 minutes of rinsing and were still actively alive 8 hours later.

What's the FASTEST Way To Get Rid of Lice?

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to help parents get rid of lice as fast as possible. And the fastest way to get rid of lice is to get rid of lice in one day, no re-treatments. This is how lice professionals like myself get rid of lice in lice centers. Most people assume that lice professionals use some kind of crazy strong lice product or something. But the truth is that's not how lice professionals get rid of lice so fast....

When I treat lice in my lice center I don't use any toxic chemicals or special treatments. In fact, you can do a professional lice treatment at home without buying any lice products. I teach parents how to do this professional technique on their children at home, on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

In Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! you learn how to get rid of lice in less than a day by doing what the pro's do. And it's gone permanently- there are no re-treatments, and no messing around with lice kits. You do the professional  technique on your child at home, you kill all of the lice and the lice eggs in one session and then you're done with lice. 

That's the FASTEST and MOST EFFECTIVE way to get rid of lice. You can learn how to do it by clicking here.

Why Do Some People Think Dandruff Shampoos Kill Lice?

Side-by-side of lice and dandruff in the hair. Top image is lice, bottom image is dandruff

#1 - Many people have dandruff, but believe they have head lice.

It’s not uncommon for dandruff and lice eggs to be confused with one another. If you are finding lots of white “lice eggs” that magically go away when you start using a dandruff shampoo, I can bet that you had dandruff all along, not lice.

But, to be honest, if you’re not a lice expert like myself, it can be very tricky to differentiate between the two.

Check out the article Lice vs. Dandruff to learn the 7 key differences between nits and dandruff so that you can spot nits like a pro.

#2- Lice temporarily go immobile in dandruff shampoo.

A lice quickly crawling through a woman's blond hair.

When you submerge lice in a liquid-like a dandruff shampoo, they close up their “breathing holes” so that nothing can penetrate them.

Lice submerged for long periods go into a “hibernation-state” to conserve energy. One study terms this as “playing dead.” 

When people use Denorex, Head and Shoulders, or Selsun Blue on the head for prolonged periods, they may see lice “playing dead” and assume that they are, in fact, dead.

But lice “resurrect” back to life after being rinsed. 

The studies show that lice can remain in this hibernation state for a very long time after being rinsed. But in the cases of Coal Tar (Denorex & T-gel), Selsun Blue and Head and Shoulders, it lasted no more than 15 minutes.

Lice were quickly back at full strength and capable of breeding just as they did before the treatment.

Do Head and Shoulders, Denorex, Selsun Blue, or T-gel Kill Nits?

A woman with brown hair. Multiple lice eggs cover the back of her head. The white eggs appear white. The words LICE EGGS in black lettering are in the bottom right corner of the image.

If you’re new to head lice: Lice eggs and nits are the same things. I use the words interchangeably.

Nits have a durable, impenetrable shell on them. This shell protects them from any chemicals or toxins. So, dandruff shampoo has zero effect on lice eggs. It does not kill them or prevent them from hatching.

Dandruff shampoos have no chance of penetrating these eggs.

Better Home Remedies

If you are looking for an all-natural way to get rid of lice then the very best and FASTEST way to do that is by learning how to do a professional lice treatment on your child at home. You don't need to buy any lice kits or lice products, and you can be done with lice in less than a day. That's what I teach on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

If you're set on doing it on your own and you want to hunt around for a home remedy then you can find a list of much better home remedies in my article 37 Home Remedies for Lice. In that article I evaluate every home remedy for lice and let you know how many lice and lice eggs they kill.

You should know that even the best home remedies only kill 80% of lice bugs and no home remedies kill lice eggs. If you decide to go that route then plan on retreating and nit-picking for about 3 weeks.

You can find the Home Remedies article here.

3 Week Plan To Get Rid of Lice

Obviously this is not the regime I use, because I get rid of lice in one day, but it is possible to get rid of lice without my technique, but prepare for it taking you a VERY LONG TIME. But, many people struggle with lice for weeks, months, or years, trying one lice treatment and home remedy after another and I don’t want that to be your story, so let me get you on the right track...

If you're going to get rid of lice using a home remedy, then plan on being extremely disciplined and focused on retreating, combing, and nit-picking for at least 3 weeks. 

Even the best home remedies and lice treatments do not kill all lice. They only kill the weakest lice, leaving the strongest lice live on, breed with one another, and create even stronger lice! (Gross I know). Also, although many lice eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks, different studies have shown that lice eggs can hatch anywhere between 4 days and 21 days, depending on the temperature and other factors. So, you'll need to keep retreating every 5 days to ensure that you kill lice bugs as they hatch, before they can start laying eggs of their own.

To give yourself the best chances of getting rid of lice you need to be obsessive for 3 weeks.

Here's what you'd do:

Today: Treat with a home remedy that kills some of the lice like the ones in this article (dandruff shampoo is NOT one of them!). Comb with a lice comb or nit-pick, and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 5: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 10: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 15: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 20: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

These are the biggest reasons why I'm not a fan of doing a treatment that requires re-treatments and why I encourage people to get rid of lice in one day in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

Reason #1- You’ll have lice for AT LEAST 3 weeks. I’m not a fan of any idea of living with lice for weeks on end, and that’s what you’ll be doing. Lice eggs will be hatching on your child’s head every day, which means she will have head lice crawling on her head until you do another treatment.

Reason #2- Eggs hatch at variable times. Eggs will not hatch all at once. Most lice eggs hatch in about 7-10 days, not 7-10 days after your treatment. But, some lice eggs take longer to hatch.  But, some studies shows lice eggs hatching 15 days later or 21 days later. So, you’ll need to do these treatments for AT LEAST 3 weeks to ensure they’re effective.

Reason #3- Lice eggs are your first sign of lice. Early in an infestation, you don’t usually see lice bugs; you see lice eggs. If you do not remove lice eggs from previous outbreaks you won’t figure out your child has lice until she’s had it for a very long time because you’ll assume the eggs in the hair are “old eggs.”

Reason #4- Having lice for weeks can spread it. The longer your child has lice, the more likely she is to spread it to others in the home. Let’s say a few lice hatch the day after the treatment. What’s to keep lice from spreading to her siblings and friends?

If you choose the “repeat treatments” method, your child will have lice for several weeks, because every day new baby lice will hatch from the eggs left in the hair.

If you want to get rid of lice fast, skip the re-treatments, and move on with your life then learn how to do the professional technique I teach on the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro page.

Do Dandruff Shampoos Prevent Lice?

crazy hair

The truth is that lice like all types of hair, dirty or clean, dandruff, or no dandruff. What they care about is having a place to lay their eggs and frequently feed on blood (that’s right, just like mosquitos or leeches, they feed on your blood!). Lice are not prejudiced. They are just as happy in damaged, nasty hair as they are in clean hair.

Lice are attracted to the smell of your blood. If they smell desirable blood, they don’t crawl; they hustle to that head.

How Do You Prevent Lice?

Instead of using a dandruff shampoo for lice prevention, I’d recommend using a lice prevention shampoo or spray infused with one or more of the essential oils lice hate.
Many use tea tree shampoo for this purpose, but in my experience, it requires a bit more than that. Some of the most effective lines of lice repellent shampoos and sprays can be found in this article.

Does Head and Shoulders Kill Lice? The Experiment

head and shoulders

The first product tested was Head and Shoulders shampoo. A few have touted the ingredient zinc pyrithione in Head and Shoulders as being a lice killer, is it true?

I collected several hairs with multiple lice and placed them in a jar.

Head and Shoulders was poured into the jar and completely saturated the hair and all lice.

Lice were covered with Head and Shoulders shampoo for 30 minutes and then rinsed.

The results…

Within 15 minutes of being rinsed, all lice were alive. I checked again at 8 hours, and all of the lice were still alive.

No. Head and Shoulders does not kill head lice.

Does Denorex Kill Lice? Does T-gel Kill Lice? The Experiment

T-gel

Next tested was coal tar against head lice. Coal tar is an ingredient found in both Denorex Extra Strength and T-gel. Some have claimed it is a lice killer, is it true?

I collected several hairs with multiple lice and placed them in a jar.

Coal tar shampoo was poured into the jar and completely saturated the hair and all lice.

Lice were covered with coal tar shampoo for 30 minutes and then rinsed.

The results…

Within 5 minutes of being rinsed, all lice were alive. The lice were rechecked 8 hours later and were still alive.

No, coal tar shampoos like Denorex Extra Strength and T-gel do not kill head lice.

Does Selsun Blue Kill Lice? The Experiment

selsun blue

The next test was Selsun blue. The active ingredient in Selsun Blue is selenium sulfide. Some have claimed it can kill lice, is it true?

I collected several hairs with multiple lice and placed them in a jar.

Selsun Blue was poured into the jar and completely saturated the hair and all lice.

Lice were covered with Selsun Blue for 30 minutes and then rinsed.

The results…

Within 15 minutes of being rinsed, all lice were alive. Lice were rechecked 8 hours later and were still alive.

No, Selsun Blue does not kill head lice.

Summing It Up…

Head and Shoulders, Denorex, Selsun Blue, and T-gel, do not kill head lice. If you use one of these shampoos for lice treatment and it “cures” your head lice, it is much more likely that you had dandruff all along, not lice.

If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use a Dandruff Shampoo. Instead I’d recommend you use a more effective home remedy like the ones I cover in this article. But, understand that there is no home remedy or treatment out there that kills all lice bugs or lice eggs, so it’s going to take you several weeks to get rid of lice using a method like that.  If you want to get rid of lice quickly, you should check out the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course and get rid of it in ONE DAY.

All the best,

Theresa, My Lice Advice

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa is a lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She currently works with government agencies and non-profit organizations to help children with the most severe head lice infestations in the US.

Originally trained as a Registered Nurse, she changed specialties to study lice. Later, she opened a lice treatment center where she perfected the PRO technique she teaches in the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro online course. She now works helping those struggling with lice around the world.

She is the creator of MyLiceAdvice.com, one of the top lice informational websites in the world and she teaches parents around the world how to get rid of lice in less than a day in the Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro online course.

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