Q. My pediatrician confirmed my suspicions that my daughter had lice. Needless to say, I was upset. She will soon be heading for camp, and I did not want her to suffer the humiliation of being diagnosed there or spreading lice to other kids.
The pediatrician warned me that lice have developed resistance to chemicals in lice shampoos. Instead, she recommended slathering mayonnaise on my daughter’s hair.
We tried this technique and covered her head with a shower cap for a few hours. Then I carefully combed her hair, rinsed and shampooed. Three treatments a few days apart solved the problem.
A. There are an amazing number of home remedies for lice. Many involve the suffocation approach, with things such as mayo, olive oil, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, Cetaphil cleanser, amber Listerine and dimethicones (Deutsches Arzteblatt International, online, Nov. 11, 2016).
But an article in Pediatric Dermatology (September 2016) states that “home remedies such as mayonnaise, and essential oils, have not been demonstrated to be safe and effective, and may carry potential for severe adverse events.” On the other hand, an article in the journal PLOS One (online, June 10, 2016) reported that a mineral oil shampoo was highly effective. Public health nurses always remind us that combing out nits (lice eggs) is essential for a successful cure.
Q. I am a physician, but traditional medicine has let me down. Knee surgery has not helped my sore knees. Neither have stem cell injections. I have tried oral supplements without much success. Any suggestions?
A. Have you considered a topical NSAID such as diclofenac gel? It should be less likely to cause systemic side effects than oral drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen.
Even though you have not had success with supplements, have you tried turmeric (curcumin), ashwagandha, boswellia, ginger, MSM, SAMe, tart cherry juice or pineapple (bromelain)? We recognize that you will want some scientific support for such alternative approaches. You will find it and more details in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. Look in the Health Guide section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. Some years ago I read an article that said not to discontinue daily aspirin use suddenly. The authors of this research warned that people were having strokes when they stopped taking aspirin two weeks before a surgery. I worry that blood clots could form if people stop taking long-term aspirin too quickly. Have you heard of this?
A. There is a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the question of stopping aspirin. Some doctors recommend discontinuing aspirin three days before surgery. Others tell patients to stop it five to 10 days prior to any surgical procedure. Many patients stop aspirin on their own without even consulting the surgeon or anesthesiologist. We discourage that approach. It is important to get a clear recommendation from the people who will be performing the surgery.
A Swedish study involving over 600,000 patients concluded that “In long-term users, discontinuation of low-dose aspirin in the absence of major surgery or bleeding was associated with a greater than 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events” (Circulation, Sept. 26, 2017). The authors speculate that a rebound effect may occur after aspirin discontinuation. If it exists, and how long it might last, is uncertain and remains controversial.
(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)