Head lice can be such a problem from toddler to teen, to get rid of them is not an easy task. The host’s head needs to be cleared completely of the live lice but also all their eggs, or nits, must also be eradicated otherwise further lice will hatch and lay their own eggs, thus commencing the parasitic cycle once more. One tiny barely visible egg can create an entire population of the little suckers in no time.
Head lice are hardy little creatures, similar to the flea in its blood-sucking tendencies. Thankfully they don’t jump but they do pass from child to child like wildfire.
You’ll need to decontaminate your home – wash all bedding, cushions, combs, brushes, hair ties, hats, blankets, uniforms, stuffed toys – to get rid of an infestation. Fortunately, dogs and cats don’t carry human lice.
There are many, many remedies on the pharmacy shelves but most of the effective ones are heavily packed full of very strong chemicals (basically pesticides) which, if you’re anything like me, I’d avoid repetitively putting on my child’s head and potentially into their blood stream.
Alternatives to such chemicals (which, by the way, are never 100% effective and very pricey) are available, however they often prove to be even less effective than their chemical counterparts.
Having been through many years of struggling with this epidemic by caking conditioner all over my children’s heads, scraping them with nasty spiked combs, testing out commercial brands, oils, lotions, preventatives etc., etc., I started to wonder if there were natural alternatives that would not harm the scalp, but eradicate these nasty little critters.
My mother in law told me of a bark they used to soak in water back in Italy when their kids were young (and dealing with seven itchy heads!) which they would then rub into their hair and manage to contain the problem. She couldn’t remember the name so I began to investigate. I have now come across many home remedies that do work – no less effectively than anything I have bought off the shelf – are far cheaper and, most importantly are made of all natural and easily obtainable materials.
Tea tree oil is a potent smelling oil made from the leaves of the Australian Tea Tree which claims to prevent lice by deterring them with its potent odour and flavour. I find that alone, it is not enough to prevent them climbing on.
Quassia is a plant used as insecticide, in traditional medicine and as additive in the food industry. Extract of Quassia kills head lice and their eggs.
Coconut oil – High in saturated fat, this edible oil made from the flesh of the coconut, provides a silky, slippery solution to remove nits by reducing their ability to grip or stick to the hair. It smells good and leaves the hair very shiny.
Apple Cider Vinegar is said to destroy the ‘glue’ with which the eggs cling to the hair, however will not necessarily kill all the living lice.
Neem Oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the Neem Azadirachta indica, an evergreen tree. It is used (mainly in India) for cooking, cosmetic and medicinal purposes (for acne, eczema, as a parasiticide, as an antiseptic and many, many more) and also as a natural pesticide used in organic farming.
Nitty Gritty – this is by far the best nit comb on the market and not only grabs the living lice but also removes eggs.
These will all help to reduce a head lice issue yet none will solve the problem alone.
To really eradicate both lice and nits you will need to combine a few of the ‘ingredients’ listed above for an effective, harmless, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective remedy.
For one application (double the dosage for longer hair):
- 2 tsp Neem oil
- 2 tsp Quassia Extract
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 tsp Tea tree oil
- 4 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Prior to usage always do a skin test with each ingredient to ensure there are no allergies.
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, apply to the hair in sections to make sure you cover every strand. If you don’t have enough just make more! Wrap the hair in a towel or cloth and leave for as long as possible (at least one hour). Then comb through with a nit comb until the comb comes out clean.
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