In the United States alone, between 6m and 12m children will have to deal with head lice. They’re also referred to as nits and are among one of the main reasons for itchy scalps. If left untreated, they can be damaging physically, emotionally, and socially.
Getting rid of head lice is something that millions of parents want to know. Preventing them from coming back would also be helpful. Here’s a quick guide to removing head lice through home remedies.
What Are Head Lice?
How do you know you actually have head lice? Maybe the itchy scalp could be related to a skin disease or dryness.
You’ll see nits if it really is because of them. It will mean some searching in the head, but you will be able to spot the sesame seed-sized black critters in the hair. The eggs are much easier to spot. They tend to sit in clusters and are yellow/brown in colour. Even the shells of the eggs will stick in the hair, turning white at this point. You’ll see the white in strands of hair as the hair grows because the eggs remain on the strands through a gluey substance.
Lice do move around fast. Trying to see them moving around in the air is difficult. You may spot them in the parting or with a magnifying glass. You can also use a head lice comb to help diagnose the issue. The lice will get trapped in the comb’s teeth, so you can clearly see them.
The easiest way to tell if someone has lice is through the scratching. You may also see small bumps appear on the scalp due to the biting and irritation. Some children suffer more with the bites than others, and you may see some swelling in the areas.
Lice are extremely annoying for those suffering with them. They bite into the skin to feed on the blood, leaving itchy red marks. Just think of what a normal insect bite is like! They accumulate quickly too, even though the lifespan of a louse is short. They lay hundreds of eggs at a time between them, quickly causing an infestation.
More bad news? They’re contagious. It’s why children are most likely to get them. Just being nearby to another child with lice will lead to the lice moving into the other child’s hair. Many schools will send out warnings when there are known louse infestations to make all parents aware. This helps parents catch the problem quickly and get rid of the infestation completely.
If one person in the house has head lice, you’ll need to check everyone’s hair. It is possible that the infestation will pass between family members, as they can remain on bedding and clothes. Families are also likely going to be nearby to each other, especially young siblings. When treating one, treat everyone to stop the infestation.
When children have been at sleepovers with friends and lice are spotted, it’s worth discussing this with other parents. Don’t go on the offensive, as parents can be embarrassed at the idea of their child having nits. Just let the parents know that you spotted them and to say that their children may have caught them too. This way you’re not putting the blame on other parents.
Should You Use Over the Counter Medication?
There are plenty of over the counter options to get rid of head lice. They are effective at killing the lice, but not all will get the eggs. You’ll need to keep using the shampoos and lotions until all the eggs have hatched and the lice are killed. If you only use for a few days and don’t get the eggs, you’ll still have an infestation.
It’s also important to check the ingredients and side effects of using the shampoos. Some can be drying to the skin or hair. You’ll then need to use conditions and other treatments to help treat the dryness.
Lice have also started to become resistant to some of the over the counter medicated shampoos. Like humans have developed resistances to antibiotics through overuse, lice had developed them to the shampoos because so many people now rely on them.
With all this in mind, it’s worth looking for natural methods to help remove head lice. Some of these treatments have been used for centuries with success. Head lice have failed to build resistance to them because they work in different ways to the medications. They don’t always kill the lice, but remove them from the hair. They can even remove the eggs from the hair. We recommend the best product on the market for this problem, try it from here.
Use Olive or Almond Oil to Remove the Oil
Oil is a great way to get rid of head lice naturally. Rather than actually killing the lice, the oil slows them down so you can see them and get rid of them with a comb. In fact, you can use to oil to slow the lice down to see if this is the reason for your child’s itchy scalp.
Because the oil smothers the lice to slow them down, the lice can’t build a resistance to it. The oils will also help to repair dry skin problems while offering other health benefits depending on the type of oil you use. Almond, olive and coconut oils have been linked to helping boost immunity functions and strengthen the hair.
You can either apply the oil directly to the hair or just on the comb to pull through the hair. Whichever way you do it, you’ll need to do this method on separate smaller sections of the hair. This helps to pull out all the nits in that area. Don’t forget to go back through them to make sure all the lice are out.
Do it in an area with some light. You’ll need it to see clearly where the small black critters are.
Clean the comb frequently to avoid putting the nits or lice back into the hair accidentally. Hot water works best as it will kill the lice completely and get rid of the sticky eggs.
Thoroughly wash the hair afterwards. The oils will help to nourish the hair, but they can also make the hair look greasy. Make sure the towel is completely clean when drying the hair. This avoids putting lice and eggs back into the hair after washing.
This method does take time, but it is worth it when you nourish the hair and get rid of lice at the same time. You’ll need to do it every single day for two weeks just to make sure you get rid of all the lice. Some of the eggs won’t be pulled out with the comb because of the sticky substance. If they hatch after treatment, and you don’t keep using the oils, you’ll just keep getting the infestation back.
If your child has an allergy to nuts, stick to olive oil or something similar. When you’re not sure about allergies, test the oil on the back of the hand first.
Use Essential Oils
Rather than olive oil, invest in essential oils. Be aware that they can cause irritation to sensitive skin, so test them on the back of the hand in a small amount before applying them directly to the scalp. Some of the best essential oils to use include tea tree, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus. Most oils will work for this need, though.
You’ll need olive oil to use olive oil to help with this process. Like mentioned above, the olive oil just helps to smother and slow down the lice to make sure the essential oil treatment is as effective as possible.
This is a treatment that needs to be used overnight. It takes 12 hours for the essential oils to really affect the lice, so you can remove them from the hair. You’ll just need around 15 drops of oil in olive oil that you then apply straight to the scalp with cotton balls. You can also apply it through a spray.
After allowing it to settle in the hair, comb through with a nit comb.
Use a Hair Dryer on the Nits
Now that you have treatments for the live lice, it’s time to look at options for the nits. The smothering technique really slows the live lice to get them, which is why you’ll need to keep going through the same process for when the nits hatch.
Hair dryers—and really any heat treatment—are effective in getting rid of the eggs. The heat dries them out and helps to soften the glue that sticks to the hair, making it easier to pull them out with a comb.
Do watch out for the amount of heat you put on your hair. It is damaging and will dry out your skin. You can use it along with the oil treatment to help protect the hair from the dryness issues.
Don’t use the hair dryer if you are using a chemical-based head lice treatment. The heat and the chemicals can cause adverse reactions in the hair, damaging the hair further. Some of the treatments are also flammable!
Try a Mayonnaise Treatment
Mayonnaise is another option to use to smother the head lice. This is one where the jury is still out. Some people have found success, but there are others who find the oil treatment better. The problem with the mayonnaise treatment is that once you wash it out to comb your hair, the lice get to breathe again and will move around faster. By combing with the mayonnaise in, you capture the mayo and not the lice!
Those who have found success with it have used full-fat mayonnaise and used it in large amounts. The mayo needs to stay on overnight, so make sure you use a shower cap to protect your sheets from the ingredient!
The good news is that you only need to do this once a week! It should kill and remove all the live lice, so you’ll just need to wait for the eggs to hatch and then remove them when they’re babies. Catch them early enough and you won’t need to worry about them laying new eggs.
Use it for a few weeks to make sure you really do get rid of the baby lice.
Mix Some Garlic and Lime
How about some garlic and lime in your hair? No, it doesn’t sound appealing, but that’s the point! It isn’t appealing to the lice either. Like the oils, the garlic will smother the head lice. You can just grind garlic cloves and mix with some lime juice to apply directly to the hair.
Another option is to make a paste with some green tea and shampoo. Add some conditioner in to help protect the scalp from drying out. Let it all sit in the hair for 30-60 minutes and then rinse out with warm water. You can then use the head lice comb to get rid of the smothered head lice.
The downside of this treatment is that it isn’t as quick as the others. It can take up to two months to get rid of all the lice in your hair. This is because it won’t get rid of all the eggs.
Garlic does have healing properties, though. It can help to reduce inflammation and irritation caused by the head lice bites. It will soothe the itching, which helps people feel better about their condition.
Opt for Baby Oil with White Vinegar
Baby oil is a powerful ingredient. It will work the same way as olive oil and almond oil by slowing down the pests. You can then use the comb to remove them from your hair.
The oil doesn’t do anything for the eggs, but this is where the white vinegar comes in. Place this on the hair and use a shower cap or clean towel so you can keep the vinegar in overnight. The acid in the vinegar will work on the glue holding the eggs in the hair, making it easier to remove the eggs with the comb.
Of course, the vinegar can also damage your hair if it’s left in. You’ll need to wash it out completely with some shampoo and condition your hair to protect it from dryness.
Treating Your Hair Afterwards
Once you’ve treated the hair and got rid of the lice, you’ll need to get rid of all the ingredients. Sometimes shampooing just isn’t enough.
Dishwashing soap is perfect for this need. It’s designed specifically to remove grease and get rid of mayonnaise, oils and everything else that ends up on pots, pans, and plates. So, it makes sense that it will get rid of the oils that have been put in the hair.
Do watch out for the type of soap you use. Some of them will dry out the hair, so you’ll need to condition the hair afterwards.
Dishwashing soap may also be able to help remove some of the eggs! The soap will break down the glue that holds the eggs in place. By using it in your hair, you’ll be able to get rid of the live lice with the oils or mayo and then get rid of the eggs with the soap. Using the home remedies are extremely quick and effective.
What If You Haven’t Got Rid of the Head Lice?
If after all these natural treatments you’re still suffering from them, you’ll need to speak to a doctor or try an over the counter medication. Unfortunately, while effective the natural head lice treatments don’t work for everyone. They do require consistent use and patience. Unfortunately, some of them can lead to allergic reactions.
They also don’t protect the hair from any later infestations. If your child comes back home months later with more head lice, it’s a sign that one of their friends, a person in their class, or a person in their afterschool club has an infestation that has been left untreated. It could also mean that there is someone else in the family with head lice.
A doctor will be able to prescribe something that is stronger to get rid of the lice and the eggs. Medical treatments can actually kill the lice, rather than just slow them down, and may even kill the eggs before they can hatch.
Head lice are extremely annoying. In most cases, they won’t lead to other health conditions, but that doesn’t mean you just want to leave them there. Not only do they lead to inflammation and irritation, but they can also lead to other children not wanting to play with your child in fear of getting the head lice.
It is possible to get rid of them through natural methods. Many of them are effective, but they will require some patience. You’ll need to use the treatments daily or weekly until you’re certain that there are no more eggs that can hatch.
Over the counter medications can be effective as long as lice haven’t grown resistant to them. The benefit of home remedies is they nourish the hair and lice can’t build a resistance from them. You can avoid dry hair conditions and even build stronger, more luxurious hair through the use of them.