If you ever thought that having dull tresses and frizzy locks were horrible hair problems to have, then you most likely have not dealt with the issue of lice. Head lice are arguably the worst existing hair care worry because lice attack the hair shaft, live on the scalp, and make the head unbearably itchy. However, you can get rid of this nuisance with the proper hair care treatment, persistence, and home remedies to get rid of lice in the hair. It may not be easy, but it can be done.
You will learn the following from this post:
Table of Contents
- Meaning of head lice
- Symptoms of lice
- Causes of head lice
- Lice treatment home remedies
What is Head Lice?
Head lice are little insects (almost microscopic) that live on blood from the human scalp. Head lice infestation often affects children, and it’s usually a result of the direct transfer of the insects from one person’s hair to another. Infestation from head lice is not an indication of an unclean environment or poor personal hygiene. Head lice do not possess viral or bacterial infectious diseases.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can treat head lice. While using these medications, ensure that you carefully follow treatment instructions to eliminate lice and their eggs from your hair and scalp. Various natural remedies for head lice effectively get rid of the infestations, but there is little to no scientific finding to suggest that they really work.
Many parents panic when they realize that their child’s head is full of lice, even though lice infestation has no poor hygiene. Before you lose it upon seeing your kid vigorously itch their scalp with both hands, reading this post will guide you on how you can deal with this situation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about six to twelve million elementary school-aged kids get lice every year in the United States alone. And the infestation is primarily due to head-to-head contact with an infected child that either has lice or eggs, known as nits. Less commonly, lice can be transmitted through shared belongings like bedding, scarves, brushes, combs, and hats. Anyone can get lice from anywhere, including unlikely places like airplane seats and the backs of theaters.
Why Getting Rid of Lice is Hard
A fully matured louse can be grey or light brown, with about two to three millimeters in length, and has a lifespan of about a month. A mature female can lay about six eggs each day and continues to do so as close to the scalp as she can to promote the survival of the eggs. She often ensures this survival by sticking the eggs to the hair shaft with a sticky, glue-like substance to hold them in place on the scalp. Nits are sized like the pinhead and can appear yellowish or whitish. It takes between eight and nine days for an egg to hatch, which is why eliminating lice can be a tiresome job. A nit becomes a nymph through hatching and continues to develop into an adult louse within 9 and 12 days as long as there is a supply of blood for survival.
One of the reasons lice are difficult to eradicate is that they are tiny and difficult to see, let alone recognize. In addition, they crawl fast and quickly hide from the light. So even when you know they are there, it can be challenging to spot them.
Symptoms of Lice
Common symptoms of a head lice infestation may include the following:
- Itching. Itching on the ears, neck, and scalp is the most common symptom of head lice infestation. The itching is an allergic reaction to bites from lice. When a person is suffering from an infestation of lice for the first time, the person may not feel itching for four to six weeks after the infestation.
- Lice on the scalp. Because lice are tiny, it is hard to see them, but they are there. Also, they move quickly, especially when they are exposed to light. Therefore, it is easy to assume that one does not have lice if there is no proper and careful scalp examination.
- Lice eggs on hair shafts. Lice eggs, usually called nits, fix themselves firmly to the hair shafts. It may be challenging to see incubating nits because they are pretty small. However, you can easily spot them around the ears and the neck’s hairline. It may be easier to spot empty nits because their color is lighter and further from the scalp. However, nits in the hair don’t mean active infestation.
- Sores on the shoulders, neck, and scalp. Scratching can result in small, red bumps that bacteria can sometimes infect.
Causes of Head Lice
A louse is a grayish-tan insect the size of a strawberry seed. A louse feeds on the blood from a human’s scalp. The female louse secretes a sticky substance that makes its eggs firmly attached to the base of a hair shaft.
The Life Cycle of a Louse
A louse passes through three survival stages:
- Eggs that are hatched within six to nine days.
- Nymphs are immature lice that develop into adults within nine to twelve days.
- Adult lice can exist within three to four weeks. The female louse can produce six to ten eggs per day.
Transmission of Head Lice
Head lice are insects that are unable to fly or jump, but they crawl. Transmission from one person to another is often through direct head-to-head contact. This transmission usually occurs within a family, and it can also affect children who have close contact at play or school.
Indirect transmission is not as common as direct, but lice may spread from one person to another through items like:
- Pillows, towels, and upholstery
- Hair accessories
- Combs and brushes
- Scarves and hats
Indirect transmission can arise among clothing stored together. For instance, scarves or hats hung on the same hook could serve as means of lice transmission. Household pets like cats and dogs do not help spread head lice.
Risk Factors Associated with Lice
Because these lice are majorly spread directly through head-to-head contact, the risk of transmission is highest among children who go to school or play together. In the United States alone, head lice cases often occur in preschool through elementary school children.
Complications Associated with Lice
If your kid scratches their scalp frequently due to head-lice infestation, the skin can possibly break and develop an infestation.
Lice Treatment Home Remedies
Almost all home remedies to get rid of lice depend on some methods to eliminate the lice. Therefore, using effective home remedies is preferable to putting harmful chemicals on your head or your child’s. In this section, you will discover what home remedies you can try, including those you should avoid.
Wet-combing is an ancient method of eliminating lice from the hair. This traditional way has a myriad of advantages, such as distinguishing lice from dandruff, making the lice more visible, and being affordable.
Wet-combing is a method of spraying conditioner on wet strands of hair with the use of a fine-toothed comb and, in some situations, a magnifying glass to clearly check each strand of hair and take out the individual lice.
Although this can be a pretty effective method, it also takes a lot of time and requires a certain level of patience to complete. So, if you choose this method, allow enough time and consider some entertainment options if you are carrying it out on your child.
2. Smother the Lice
There are some suffocating methods you can apply to the lice. The methods work best if you adhere strictly to the instructions. You should know that some experts believe that it’s combing that actually does the trick (suffocating or smothering treatment). To apply this method, first, coat the hair with almond or olive oil (do not use Vaseline or mayonnaise because they are messy and can be challenging to wash off). Separate the hair into small sections as you apply the oil. Then use a hair clip to move the hair out of the way. Ensure that you carry out this method in a good light to see what you are doing clearly. After thoroughly combing the hair, wash it off with regular shampoo about twice. Then dry the hair. Ensure that you wash all the used towels. Soak the lice comb in a 10 percent bleach solution for half an hour, and then rinse it well. Alternatively, you can soak the comb in vinegar for half an hour or boil it in water for 10 minutes to eliminate all the lice on it. Follow this method for the next seven days. Then, for the next fortnight, check by combing the hair each night to ensure that the lice are no more there.
3. Essential Oil
Various essential oils are effective against head lice. You should not ingest essential oils because some can be pretty toxic. Always dilute any essential oil you want to use with a carrier oil before use. Apply a small drop of the diluted mixture to the back of your hand. If you feel no reaction, then you can apply it to the scalp. However, there is not enough evidence to prove that the use of essential oils is safe for kids.
Although it is not common, some children have allergic reactions to some essential oils, especially tea tree oil. If your kid is allergic to one kind of essential oil, you can try another type. The oils that have been pretty effective include:
- nutmeg oil
- peppermint oil
- red thyme oil
- cinnamon leaf oil
- aniseed oil
- eucalyptus oil
- clove oil
- neem oil
- lavender oil
- tea tree oil
4. Clean your environment
If you, your kid, or any of your family members has lice, you may want to embark on a cleaning spree in the house and around it. Still, you can be sure that full house decontamination is not often necessary for lice elimination. Lice won’t live too far away from the head, and nuts won’t hatch at room temperature. So you can do that deep cleaning of your apartment some other time. First, however, you need to wash or clean anything that has come in close contact with the person with lice, such as combs, brushes, or pillowcases. Put stuffed animals and other items you cannot wash into a plastic bag. Any infected item should be washed in hot water or put in a hot dryer for fifteen minutes. You can put non-washable items in an air-tight plastic bag and leave it for about two weeks to kill the lice and nits. A further step is vacuuming the furniture or floor where lice may have been.
5. Avoid the Following Methods and Products
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are things you should not attempt when you are trying to get rid of lice:
- Do not use more than the prescribed amount of the recommended dose for lice treatment. Overdosage can be harmful and may lead to severe damage.
- Keep any lice medication away from your eyes. If there is contact, wash thoroughly with clean water.
- Do not use the same lice treatment more than three times. Medication treatments that are repeated too often may cause the lice to build resistance to them.
- Don’t apply more than one lice medication simultaneously. Using more than one treatment simultaneously will not kill the lice faster, which can even cause more harm than good.
- Do not fumigate the house or living area a person with lice has been in. Fumigation does not necessarily kill lice, and the process might be toxic to pets and other people.
- Do not use conditioner. Conditioner prevents lice medications from working effectively because it stops them from properly sticking to the hair shaft.
- Avoid using lindane shampoo as the first treatment for lice infestation in children. Overuse or misuse of this shampoo can be toxic to the nervous system and brain. Therefore, you should only use lindane when other treatments have failed, albeit carefully.
When trying to eliminate lice, make sure that you follow the directions appropriately. The failure to properly follow treatment directions is one of the significant causes of re-infestation. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is not enough strong evidence to suggest that home remedies for lice in the hair are effective. Therefore, it is best to adhere to your doctor’s instructions and inform them when a treatment does not appear to be working.
What Essential Oils are Used as Remedy for Lice?
Some effective essential oils used as a remedy for the lice are tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, neem oil, red thyme oil, etc. You can get these oils easily in any grocery store.
Why do I Constantly Get Lice?
There are commonly two main reasons for recurrent lice infestation: if your treatment was not done properly and if you get in contact with someone with lice infection.
What is the Permanent Natural Solution For Lice?
Permethrin lotion, 1%, is an approved and certified measure for lice treatment. When used per the procedure, it is safe and effective to kill lice. Though it won’t treat the unhatched egg, the treatment remains effective for a few days so that newly hatched lice left in the egg are also killed.
The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care doctor before using the remedies that are provided. The information is provided by The Hidden Cures and while we do timely, in-depth research on the information that we provide to you, everything stated may not be up to date or accurate from the time it was written.