Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Head Lice Treatment

Let’s start with some basic facts.

Head lice go through 3 molting phases before they become adults who are able to mate.  Around 8-9 days is how long this takes, if lice have continuous access to a human host.  Mating can begin within the first 10 hours of adult life.  Females lay about 3-4 eggs daily and during its lifespan of four weeks a female lays 50-150 eggs (nits).  Lice hatch around 6-9 days later.

Egg laying is temperature dependent to be conducive to proper embryo development.  In cool climates eggs are laid closer to the skull for warmth, around 1cm up the hair shaft.  While in warmer climates eggs may be laid a good 6inches down the hair shaft.

Head lice are blood-feeders and bite the skin four to five times daily to feed.  To feed the lice bite through the skin and inject saliva to prevent blood from clotting.  It then sucks the blood into its digestive tract.  Blood sucking can continue for a long period if the lice are not disturbed.  Head lice live for around 35 days and will die of starvation within 1-2 days if removed from the scalp and do not find a new host/blood source.

Lice favour the nape of the neck and behind the ears.  This is where eggs are usually laid.  This is because head lice are repelled by light and you will often see them moving towards the shadows or dark coloured objects once disturbed.
Knowing the cycle helps deal with lice.  You now know when is the best time to treat them and how to tell males from females.
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Many products on the market today offer chemical treatments to kill off head lice.  Research has shown that lice are becoming resistant to these chemicals.  Aside from their resistance many parents, and rightly so, are not comfortable with using harsh chemicals on their children’s hair.  And usually these chemical treatments require reapplication again and again.
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Infestation story:

“As a little girl I never got head lice at all.  I figured I was lucky but really didn’t think much of it.  Then as an adult with small children, where other children would come to visit and have overnight stays I found myself getting head lice.  I got head lice 3 times in one year after never having them as a child.

I was using the usual chemical applications to get rid of my lice; lotions, shampoos etc.  On the third infestation I was using lotions and shampoos around every 3 to 7 days.  Combing through my hair each time and finding nothing, and it wasn’t getting rid of the lice.  All my bedding was regularly stripped and washed, along with clothes, in lice lotion.  Still the lice wouldn’t die.  I had hubby keep checking my hair and telling me he couldn’t find any trace of lice… but I KNEW they were there.

My five year old ended up with head lice and much to my dismay so did my baby boy, not yet one.  I knew I couldn’t treat my baby boy with over the counter chemical filled products and I wasn’t winning my own battle with head lice.  So I went searching through my natural remedies book for head lice treatment.  Found one and  applied the lotion to my five year old and it worked.  Then I applied the lotion to my baby boy knowing it was gentle enough to use on him and again it worked.

I used the lotion on myself and sure enough I combed out a couple of good sized adult lice along with some young lice and eggs.  I had been certain they were there all along!  I also washed all our clothes, bedding, cushion covers, towels etc. in eucalyptus oil.  I waited a couple of days and rechecked everyone’s hair.  Nothing.  I waited longer thinking perhaps eggs just needed to hatch.  Still nothing.  I was so happy with the results.

The lotion is viscous.  It is easy to use - though it might be tricky for those with thick long hair (I have long hair).  Still, the results are great.

What was the 'lotion' my natural remedy book recommend?  Humble old olive oil!  It literally overpowers the lice and they suffocate to death within minutes.  Simple, and gooey, yet effective.

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To use the Head Lice lotion:

Comb or brush out all knots so hair is tangle free.

Apply the lotion in small batches to the scalp, starting from the front of the head.  Massage the lotion into the scalp and up the hair shaft, then apply the next dollop working your way back to the nape of the neck.  Repeat until all the scalp and as much hair as possible is coated.  Much the same way you apply hair dye.


Comb through the hair with a normal wide tooth comb or bush making sure hair is tangle free and manageable.

Working in sections, comb through the hair with the head lice comb slowing working your way through the hair to scoop out the lice.  You may need a white plate or bowl and a toothpick to take the lice and eggs out of the comb and place on the plate.


Continue until all the hair has been combed through and repeat several times.  Good news is even if you miss some lice they will have suffocated to death.

Put on a cap (or plastic bag) over the hair and leave to stand for 10 minutes.  Then repeat the combing process once more.

In most cases one application is all that’s needed.  Though if necessary repeat 3-7 days later as per the lice cycle.

Wash hair as per normal.  You will need to wash your hair a couple of times before the lotion is fully removed.

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To do a pre lice check before applying the lotion, to find out if there are head lice to begin with.  Spritz hair with a solution of 2 parts water 1 part vinegar.  Vinegar is a mild acid and slows down the ability for lice to run and escape.  Comb hair with a normal comb or brush to untangle hair, then go through hair with a lice comb to see if the person has head lice.  If they do follow through with the head lice treatment.

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1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic information and so good to see natural solutions being offered! We are getting 'super-lice' out there that are resistant to treatment because they are adapting and beating those nasty chemical treatments. I have shared this on my MyGreenSoapbox page and tweeted it because I think a lot of parents will be grateful for the information.

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