A 1-year-old infant girl died in Springfield, Mass., over the weekend when her family attempted a home remedy for head lice, MassLive reports. A spokesman for Springfield Police said the matter is being investigated by detectives, though no charges have been filed. Police officers found the girl had suffocated after relatives slathered mayonnaise on her hair and scalp and then placed a plastic shopping bag over her head. Several hours passed during which the girl was left unattended. When the family discovered she was not breathing, they called the police.

A small boy in the house also had head lice; in his case, the family shaved his head. All children have been removed from the house, the police spokesman said, and now are in the care of relatives.

Generally, doctors recommend over-the-counter treatments, such as Nix or Rid, for eliminating head lice. These are widely available in pharmacies. In some cases, prescription treatments may be used. These are known to be both effective and safe, causing no skin reaction even in very young children with sensitive skin. When expense is an issue, some families turn to home remedies, though in many cases, the cost will end up being about the same.

Most home remedies, including the mayonnaise treatment used by this family, depend on some version of smothering the lice. They all work more or less the same: Slather peanut butter or olive oil or mayonnaise on the hair and then wrap the head with plastic wrap. Usually, a shower cap is recommended for children because it is safest.

Other home remedies include using a combination of essential oils and combing. The most effective oil is tea tree oil, though lavender oil, neem oil, clove oil, and eucalyptus oil are also quite good. Healthline recommends mixing 15 to 20 drops of the selected essential oil with either 2 ounces of olive oil or 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol. The mixture should be applied to the scalp and hair and left on the head for at least 12 hours.

After the time has elapsed, the hair needs to be carefully combed and shampooed twice. To comb, separate the hair into small sections, and then repeatedly work the comb through the section. Rinse the comb with hot water often and when done, wash all the towels used and clean the lice comb thoroughly by either boiling it in water for 10 minutes or soaking it in bleach or vinegar for at least half an hour.

The entire procedure must be followed every day for a week, and then for the following two weeks the hair must be combed every night to make sure the lice remain gone.