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Vaseline last resort to vanquish lice

Question: I have been interested in the letters on head lice and the problems people have had with them. I would like to tell you how we finally got rid of them after many frustrating weeks of trying different products.

Our pediatrician consulted Dr. Neil Prose of Duke University, who recommended applying petroleum jelly to the children's hair.

I applied petrolatum to each child's hair and scalp, then put a plastic shower cap on each child while they slept.

The next morning I washed the Vaseline out (pouring baby oil on the hair helped with this chore). The lice were gone.

Vaseline suffocates the lice and keeps oxygen from getting to the eggs (nits). It is inexpensive and effective, and the lice will not be-come resistant.

Answer: We contacted Dr. Prose, a pediatric dermatologist, and he confirmed that he occasionally recommends this petroleum jelly treatment as a last resort when desperate parents have tried many other treatments, as you did. Washing the goo out of the hair can be very messy.

Several school nurses have asked us to emphasize the importance of measures such as thoroughly vacuuming carpets and upholstery in the home and the car, washing all bedding in very hot water, isolating non-washable stuffed toys for at least three weeks and teaching children never to share hats, brushes or combs.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Their latest book is The People's Guide to Deadly Drug Interactions (St. Martin's Press).

1997, King Features Syndicate Inc.