Introduction and Importance:
Lice are small, highly contagious parasites that live on the scalp, feeding on blood. They lay several eggs (nits) each day and live up to a month (but won’t live long when removed from the head). They cause intense scalp itching.
Chemical treatments are not only toxic, but have become less effective over the years because lice have become resistant to them. They are basically like superbugs because these are the descendants of those who survived the treatments. They do not drown easily (even in hot water) and are largely unfazed by regular shampoos.
Many other guides talk about doing tons of laundry and sanitizing the house, but actually that isn’t necessary because lice cannot survive long off the head, and the eggs are firmly attached to the hair so are unlikely to spread around. And if they hatch and don’t get a meal from someone’s scalp soon, they will die.
Follow These Steps:
1. Kill the adult lice by suffocating them with oil. Coat the scalp and hair with oil (ideally organic coconut because it has properties that may help kill them) but other kinds such as olive, or avocado oil can work too. When awake, you can wrap the hair up in a hair towel cap, t shirt, shower cap, etc. For sleeping, cover the pillows in old pillowcases and/ or a towel. You can leave the head wrapped or take the wrap off if you need to. Leave the oil on for at least 8 hours or as long as you can.
2. Wash thoroughly with shampoo.
3. Remove hair from brushes and combs before using them.
4. Blow drying helps to kill the eggs and blow eggs and lice out from the scalp. (Oil doesn’t kill eggs.) I recommend standing in a dry bathtub or shower stall, so that you can check the bottom of the tub afterwards and likely see many of the tiny critters. Be careful not to burn children with the hot air.
5. Inspect scalp and comb hair with a lice comb daily. If your child is very young and has baby fine hair, these combs may not work and you’ll have to pick the lice out with your fingers (I know, ew). Sitting under a bright light (or wearing a headlamp) will help you see them. Since they are firmly attached to the hair strands, you will likely miss some. See the next step. If you see live adults, you can repeat step one.
6. As the eggs hatch, kill the tiny nymph hatchlings before they become adults that can reproduce. This is the step many methods miss! The smallest nymph stage looks about the size of a period dot. Look especially at where the hair whorls at the top/ back of the head.
7. Continue to use a blow dryer at least once a day.
Generally, if no live crawling lice are seen three weeks after the first treatment, it’s safe to assume that they are gone. Eggs would have hatched by that time if they were alive. Eggs and their shells may remain in the hair for some time but won’t be viable.
One study done in Brazil found coconut oil to be more effective than some harsher chemical treatments. And another study in England found that a spray containing coconut oil and aniseed oil was an effective treatment for lice. A product that contains both aniseed oil and coconut oil was even called “extremely effective” with little to no observed side effects in one 2002 study
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