These little critters live on human hair and feed off tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. The tiny white eggs – or nits – of the headlice are what usually draws our attention to the problem. And they’re a very common problem, with women and children more likely to get them than men. Huge numbers of children are infected with headlice annually, and over-the-counter treatments are not only packed with dangerous chemical ingredients, they also don’t work! Natural treatments are better for your family and work in harmony with the body to restore balance. We’ve scoured around on the internet and asked parents what their top tips are for dealing with head lice naturally:
The best and most effective way to remove headlice and break their life cycle is regular grooming. The Common Hygiene Concern, a not for profit charity set up in 1988 to protect people, especially children, from parasites http://www.chc.org/homedir/thebugbusterkit.cfm has created a Bug Buster Kit for parents and schools. When I logged on to their website, I admit was expecting this ominous sounding kit to contain chemical nasties, but all it actually contains is four unique combs! So, there it is, the best way to beat nits is to avoid them getting a hold by regular and consistent combing as part of family bath-time. You can ease some of the painful tangle moments by adding oils/conditioner – see below.
2). Coconut oil
This versatile cupboard ingredient is not only fantastic for health when eaten, it can also be used with great results on skin and hair. The hair treatment can be further enhanced by the addition of essential oils – try a few drops of lavender or tea tree, or see below for essential oil recipes. Cover the hair with coconut oil, making sure you get plenty around the scalp, nape of the neck, behind the ears and right down to the ends of the hair. Wrap hair in clingfilm or a bag, and then cover with an old towel. Leave for an hour or so, and then use a nit comb to comb through the hair, covering the shoulders with the old towel. The nits will suffocate and die in the oil, and combing through afterwards isn’t the arduous and painful task it can be as the hair is beautifully conditioned. After combing through, rub a little shampoo into your hands and massage into the hair – before you add water (this helps break down the oily residue). Then shampoo and rinse as normal.
3). Keeping the hair short
It’s maybe one of the more extreme options, but if you are continually combing nits out of long, tangled hair, it might be time to book a session at the hairdressers. Short hair is increasingly fashionable for girls with lots of sweet pixie cuts for little ones and funky styles for older girls. Boys are usually pretty happy with a close shave, and it means they can go to the barber with Dad! Lice are much easier to manage in shorter hair if your child keeps picking them up, and it might just save your sanity!
4). Neem oil
The Indians have used this potent oil, derived from the neem tree, in Aruyvedic treatments and hair potions for thousands of years and we are just learning why! A 2007 study took 60 children, all heavily infested with head lice, and treated them with neem shampoo. The study showed that if the hair is washed with 20 – 30 ml of neem shampoo, and the shampoo is left in the hair for at least 10 minutes, then neem shampoo is highly effective against all stages of head lice. The oil used neat (using the same method as the coconut oil tip above) has a powerful insecticide effect, and can safely be used on pets as well. But be warned – it has a very pungent smell!
5). Aromatherapy oils
In her aromatherapy bible, Valerie Ann Worwood recommends this treatment for headlice:
“Use the following essential oils in a lotion or as an addition to the rinsing water when washing the hair:
Rosemary Geranium Lavender Eucalyptus Lemon
These are the most suitable oils for children. An excellent synergistic blend would comprise equal parts of rosemary, lavender and lemon. Add two drops to the final rinse after shampooing. Rosemary is used in many Asian hair preparations as it discourages all manner of creepy-crawlies from making their home in the hair. Lavender, of course, is a well-established insect repellent. Only use the oils in this way spasmodically.”