Homemade Remedies for Head Lice That Work.Reading Time: 5 minutes
Head lice is a parasite that lives in the scalp of humans and feeds on blood. It is a nasty inconvenience and poses a public health problem.
Head lice is highly common among school children or people living in close proximity all over the world. Women/girls are more likely to contract head lice because of their longer hair.
It is usually disconcerting to parents and teachers when there is a head lice outbreak in school. More so, being the parent of a child with head lice can be distressing and embarrassing not just for the parents, but also for the child.
Mode of Transmission
It is transmitted by head to head contact especially in crowded communities and people living in poverty. It is important to note that the they can thrive in either dirty or clean hair.
When a family member or a close contact has head lice, it is important that children and everyone else is examined to ensure they don’t have head lice. Using the combs, hair bush or other hair grooming accessories of affected persons, will likely transfer head lice to others.
Lice Life Cycle
Lice have 3 life stages
a. Egg (AKA nit): the eggs take about 7-10 days to hatch.
b. Immature (AKA nymph): maturity to adulthood takes about 8-10 days and goes through several metamorphosis.
c. Adult: Each adult lice has a lifespan of approximately 30 days. Adult females lay close to 10 eggs daily and all through their lives may produce about 300 eggs.
- Itching: It is one of the symptoms of lice infestation. Lice bites induces allergic reactions that cause itching.
- Red bumps appear on the scalp due to constant itching.
- A feeling that something is crawling in your hair and through your scalp.
- Eggs appear as white specks in hair
There are several over the counter products as well as prescription medicines that your doctor may recommend. Some shampoos (lindane shampoo) have active ingredients that kill lice and destroy the eggs.
Many of the commercially available treatments (pyrethrins and pyrethroids) do not even work and there is increasing resistance of head lice to available treatment. Some of the prescribed medications are too toxic that their use are not advisable.1 Therefore, it is important that other safer and effective lice removal agents are made available.
When you begin lice removal treatment, it is important to examine your child’s hair about 10 days after commencing treatment. You may discontinue treatment if there are no living lice or eggs found after 10 days. If there are still living lice found upon inspection of the scalp, you will need to continue treatment, but this time, use another effective product.
Do not use same product for more than 3 treatment sessions, because continued may result in resistance of lice to treatment.
1. Louse Removal Comb
Invest in a good louse removal comb. They are usually fine toothed, can be used to confirm the presence of lice. It is essentially used to physically remove lice, nits and larva and also to check the effectiveness of current treatment.2
This comb is a must have in every family especially where there are school children. It is more effective at confirming the presence of head lice when compared to direct visual examination.2
2. Baking Soda Shampoo
This homemade shampoo is highly effective against lice. Depending on the fullness and thickness of your hair, mix 2 parts shampoo to 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Separate the hair into sections, apply the baking soda mix liberally to the hair. Using the louse comb, comb through starting close to the scalp.
Combing through the wet hair helps remove lice, larva an nits. Repeat every 2 days until you no longer see live lice on examination.
3. Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
This is one of the effective essential oils to use against head lice. It shows promising results in actively killing living lice and removing the eggs according to research.3
Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil to each ounce of shampoo and apply liberally to the hair and leave for 30 to 40 minutes.3 Using a nit comb, careful comb hair out and rinse
4. Neem Oil Shampoo
Neem oil is known to be effective in interrupting the life cycle of louse. There are several commercially available Neem shampoos available that may be used to prevent and treat head lice infestations.
Alternatively, mix 8-10 drops of neem oil to each ounce of shampoo, apply liberally to hair and leave on or about 20 minutes. Then wash and comb out with nit comb.
7. Lavender Oil Shampoo
This is good for live lice but not the eggs/nits. Dilute 2 drops of lavender oil in 10 mls of water and use to wash hair at least once per week for about 3 weeks.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil Mix
Vinegar alone is a poor lice treatment. It does not kill adult lice or destroy the eggs, however, it can loosen the glue of the eg to the hair making it easier to wash off. In combination with tea tree oil it is potent against lice infestation.
- In a spray bottle, Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider to 1 cup of water, add 4 drops of tea tree oil and shake well.
- Wet hair with solution and massage into your hair and scalp and leave sit for an hour.
- Wash hair with regular shampoo or add 3 drops of tea tree oil into your shampoo, running lice comb through the hair.
- Do not share your personal belongings with others including your hair accesories, hats, combs, hair clips, clothing.
- Avoid contact completely with anyone infested.
- Children should avoid head to head contacts when playing.
- Wash all clothes, pillows and beddings of anyone with head lice.
- Clean around the house if any family member has lice infestation.
- Educate children and their carers including teachers to avoid sharing personal items and belongings.
- Use tea tree oil shampoo regularly to prevent lice infestation.
- Some of the prescribed and commercially available medications may be toxic, so do not ingest and don’t let it get into your eyes,
- Do not use more than the recommended dosage as some of them can cause brain damage.
- Conditioners should not be used because they cover the hair, scalp and do not allow treatment to penetrate the hair and scalp.
- Lindane shampoo should never be used in children as it may cause brain damage
- Fumigation is not needed to eradicate lice. Proper individual treatment is sufficient to control infestation and reduces the risk of exposure of pets and humans to highly toxic chemicals.
- Do not use same treatment more than twice to prevent resistance. If a particular medication does not work after 2 treatment sessions, opt for a different treatment.