Head lice (nits) are those pesky tiny parasites that live on the scalp and hair shafts. It is a common problem among children, especially when they first start school, or return after a holiday. Fortunately, there are many home remedies for lice!
Lice are no respecter of age or gender and are easily passed on to siblings and other family members, including Grans, Aunts and Uncles etc.
In the olden days, sometimes the head was shaved completely or Kerosene was used to treat head lice. When Kerosene was used, a severe combing with a special bone comb was then done to remove the eggs.
A painful and very smelly procedure, thankfully we have gentler and pleasant smelling home remedies for lice these days!
How To Prevent Head Lice
As always, prevention is better than the cure when it comes to lice. There are a few simple precautionary measures you can take to try and prevent your child from getting lice.
- Teach your children not to share:
- Hair accessories
- and other items that come into contact with the head
- Try and avoid head to head contact (not easy with young children)
- Certain ingredients in hair products can help to repel lice
- Tea tree oil. You can use a shampoo or conditioner with this ingredient to repel lice.
- Coconut oil. Some studies have shown that Coconut oil kills lice, more so than the chemical laden permethrin lotion1
- Menthol, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and rosemary oil or any strong smelling oil
- As well as using the above methods, a gentle comb once a week using a nit comb can be a good way to keep lice at bay.
Home Remedies For Lice
Children like to share, they have sleepovers, put their heads together when playing, share hats etc! At some point, you’ll notice the inevitable symptoms, scratch scratch scratch, especially at the base of the skull and behind the ears. All the warm places where the conditions are ideal for eggs to hatch. You might also see red bumps.
At some point, you’ll notice the inevitable symptoms, scratch scratch scratch, especially at the base of the skull and behind the ears. All the warm places where the conditions are ideal for eggs to hatch.
A thorough examination of the hair roots will show the tiny eggs, little white dots that are hard to see. Taking a nit comb through the hair is the best way to confirm whether your child has lice or not.
There are a number of very effective home remedies for lice, without using harsh chemicals.
1. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)2
Diatomaceous earth is made from tiny fossilized water plants called diatoms. The diatoms are ground up to make a fine, chalky powder that’s rich in minerals and toxic to insects.
DE works because it absorbs fats from the insects’ protective outer coating, drying them out, and killing them.
DE is non-toxic to humans, although you should be careful to avoid breathing in the dust, especially for a prolonged period. Here’s how to safely use DE for lice treatment:12
Place an old t-shirt upside down over your child’s head so the collar forms a seal around the scalp.
- Apply DE to your child’s hair, while being careful to keep the dust inside of the t-shirt “bag.”
- Tie off the open end of the t-shirt and massage the DE into your child’s scalp.
- Allow it to sit overnight, then shampoo it out the next day.
- This should be followed by a thorough combing with an extra-fine comb. You may need to repeat the treatment once a week for three weeks.
The strong fragrance of garlic can suffocate lice, ultimately killing them.
- Grind about eight to 10 garlic cloves into a paste then mix in two to three teaspoons of lime juice. Apply thoroughly onto the scalp, massage in well. Leave it on for about 30mns and then give the hair a good rinse with water (as hot as you can stand it).
- Make a thick paste by combining fresh garlic juice with some coconut oil, lemon extract, green tea (available at most grocery stores). Cover the hair thoroughly with the paste then cover your scalp with a towel for about 30mns. Shampoo and condition your hair as normal. Repeat on a weekly basis for a couple of months.
Coconut Oil Mixed With Salt and Vinegar
You can make a spray mixture 3 of salt and vinegar.
This can work to dehydrate and, eventually, kill lice on your scalp.
- Dissolve 1/4 cup of Himalayan salt in 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (warmed up).
- Spray the mixture onto your scalp until the scalp is wet.
- Let your scalp to dry, and then coat it with a layer of coconut oil.
- Leave the oil for eight hours, overnight with a head wrap on.
- Comb out the dead lice with a nit comb
- Shampoo your hair as normal to remove the smell created by the mixture.
Coconut Oil And Anise
Make a spray and follow the instructions as for coconut oil with salt and vinegar above.
Tree Tea Oil
Tea tree is a natural insecticide, making it an effective treatment for head lice 4.
Combine with other ingredients to make a natural lice treatment
- Mix together one tsp of tea tree oil, 1oz of natural shampoo and 3 tblsp of coconut or olive oil.
- Massage gently into your hair and scalp.
- Cover your head with a shower cap or towel.
- Leave your head covered for around 30mns.
- Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
- Comb through your hair while it is still wet with a nit comb to remove the dead lice eggs.
Head lice are very common and it’s rare for a child to complete their school years without getting them at least once.
If your child gets sent home from school with a note don’t panic — and don’t rush to the drug store for chemical and toxic lice-removal shampoos! Use some of the natural lice treatment methods listed above.