Head lice those dreaded tiny insects that almost every child seems to have at one time or another, there are ways to get rid of these nasty creatures naturally and learn some other home remedies.
What is head lice?
Head lice is a tiny, wingless insect that feeds on tiny amounts of blood that is draws from the scalp. They live on the scalp among the hairs. The term lice refers to more than one. One is referred to as a Louse.
They are not dangerous insect, but rather annoying and can be hard to get rid of at times. The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed and is usually tan in color although they can be greyish to white as well. The baby louse is called a nymph the nymph is smaller and become adults within a couple weeks after they hatch. The eggs that the louse lay are called nits. These nits are tiny and can be found close to the scalp at the bottom of the hair shaft.
They can spread very quickly from one person to another. Often children will get them while in school and if not treated can go around a classroom or school very quickly.
Head Lice Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of lice is an itchy scalp. Other symptoms may include the feeling that something is crawling on your scalp and sores or scabs caused by scratching.
- A parasitic insect that lives in human hair
- Not dangerous and does not spread disease
- Causes the scalp to become itchy (scratching can cause the scalp to become infected)
- They can only live for 24 hours without a human host
- They do not jump or fly, but spread by human contact or sharing hats etc.
- Shampooing daily will not prevent infestation of head lice.
Neem oil comes from the Neem Tree in India and is often referred to as “the cure all” or “the wonder tree” It has a long history of being used to protect households and crops from pests, used as a mosquito repellent and used in toothpaste, soap, shampoos and creams. Neem has an organic compound that is similar to vital hormones in lice. So the lice absorb this compound, which in turn shuts down the reproductive system of the lice, and they cannot reproduce.
Essential Oils for the treatment of Lice
Tea Tree Oil – It’s natural anti-parasitic and fungicidal properties kill lice, the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties help to heal the skin that has been affected by the lice.
Eucalyptus Oil – the strong vapors that come from eucalyptus oil helps to kill the lice and it’s antibacterial properties help protect the scalp. It works best on head lice when combined with Lavender and Rosemary.
Lavender Essential Oil – has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and when mixed with Tea Tree Oil it works as an effective treatment for head lice.
Geranium Essential Oil – the natural anti-parasitic properties kill lice while the antiseptic and antibacterial properties help to protect the scalp. Mixed with Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lavender makes an excellent treatment for head lice.
Lemon Essential Oil – has insecticidal properties that help deter the lice from invading the hair, it also contains astringent properties that help with combing. Adding Lemon and Pine with Tea Tree and rinsing the hair with this will help stop re-infestation.
Pine Essential Oil – has strong insecticidal properties and like lemon oil will help to prevent re-infestation of lice. Added to shampoo with tea tree works best.
Treating head lice naturally
Some ways of treating head lice naturally are:
- Prepare the regular amount of shampoo you would use and add approximately 10 drops of tea tree oil to it. Lather the shampoo and leave on head for 5 – 10 minutes. Rinse and then add a good amount of conditioner to your hair. Use a nit comb making sure to comb the entire head and scalp. Repeat this process every second day for 10 days or so.
- Use a blend of equal amounts of Olive oil and tea tree oil. Massage the mixture into the hair and scalp and leave for half an hour. then wash out and use a nit comb. Repeat every second day for 10 days.
- Shampoo with Neem Shampoo and rinse hair with Rosemary Essential Oil. Repeat every day for 10 days.
- Mix equal amounts of eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, pine and rosemary essential oils with Olive Oil and massage into the hair and scalp, leave on overnight and rinse in the morning, combing the hair out well with a nit comb. Repeat every two days for 10 days.
- Mix 2 parts Olive Oil and 1 part Neem oil and massage into hair and scalp and leave for about an hour and then wash out with shampoo. Then use a nit comb to remove the nits. As with the others repeat the process every couple of days for 10 days.
Other Head Lice Home Remedies
Mayonnaise, Vaseline or Coconut Oil
Completely cover the hair and scalp with vaseline, coconut oil or mayonnaise, then cover the head with a plastic bag and wait for 12 hours, then heat with a blow drier and shampoo hair. Cover with the plastic bag again after shampooing for about 30 minutes and then rinse out again. Then comb out with a nit comb.
Lime Juice and Garlic
Make a paste using 6 – 8 garlic cloves and two teaspoons of lime juice. Apply the paste to the scalp and let sit for about 30 minutes. Wash your hair as your normally would and repeat this process every week for two months.
White Vinegar and Baby Oil
Massage the baby oil into the scalp and hair, it will suffocate the lice. Then comb your hair with a nit comb. After this shampoo your hair and rinse with vinegar.
Years ago Kerosene was used in the treatment of lice. I don’t recommend this method at all as it is a highly flammable product and I don’t think the vapours would be to good to be breathing in either.
Other things to do in the prevention of recurring lice
- Wash hats, towels, bedding, pillow cases in hot water
- wash brushes and combs with hot water
- If you live in a cold climate with temperatures plummeting well below zero the bedding can be hung outside on the line for a day or two.
Remember head lice can live for about four weeks and the females lay up to 10 eggs a day, these eggs hatch every seven to ten days, so it’s very important to repeat treatment and the nit removal process for at least 10 days.
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Wow! people used to use Kerosene to treat head lice?
Imagine the effects of that liquid soaking through your scalp. Scary!
I remember Nit epidemics travelling through school when I was a kid and children having their heads shaved as a result.
Do you think that more modern treatment methods have curbed the spread of lice or is it just as prevalent?
I know the Kerosene treatment sounds pretty scary, my mother told me that’s what they did when she was a child. Head lice still seems to be an issue with children in schools, but more people are becoming proactive by using Tea tree shampoo’s. I think the natural treatments are better by far and people are becoming more aware.