I don’t think there is anything that parents fear most, than their children coming home with head lice. Just thinking about is making my skin crawl! Unfortunately, millions of kids contract these teeny tiny blood sucking lice every year.
Head lice lay tiny teardrop-shaped, whitish eggs in shells called nits. The nits attach to individual hairs with a tough, gluey cement, making them impossible to remove with ordinary shampooing. After a seven- to 10-day incubation period, the nits hatch, leaving behind a dull gray casing. They mature within a week and start the cycle again.
Lice are very contagious and spread through direct contact. So when kids lie together or touch heads, or when their toys touch or when they share hair brushes lice can be spread easily. And, then guess what…they spread it all over the house when they come home.
Although lice do not carry disease, they are super itchy and uncomfortable for those that are affected.
Since fall seems to be the time of year that lice spread, here are some handy tips to help decrease the likelihood of your child bringing them home.
- Remind your child not to share anything that touches their head – from hats to headphones.
- Use a shampoo containing fatty acids such as coconut oil or tea tree oil.
- Do weekly louse screenings. Part your child’s hair and examine her scalp in a strong light. Check for tiny white glistening eggs or gray casings that are hard to dislodge. If your child has them, check everyone in the house and inform the school.
So you have done what you can to avoid them, but your child has been sent home. Now what do you do? Here are some tips to help get rid of lice, naturally:
- Shave their head…just kidding! Luckily there are less drastic treatments!
- Choose a natural lice treatment like Well in Hand Nit Kit (you can pick it up at the pharmacy). You must use a nit comb to dislodge lice and nits. Disinfect the comb afterward. Because most products don’t work on both nits and lice, repeat the treatment seven to nine days later to get newly hatched lice. Recheck frequently for another two to three weeks. Always read instructions carefully.
- Wash anything your child’s head has touched, including linens, towels, and clothing in very hot water, and then dry in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. Store brushes and head gear that can’t be washed in plastic bags for several days or in the freezer. In winter, store the items outside for 24 hours.
- Vacuum rugs, upholstered furniture, mattresses, pillows, and car seats. Since head lice can’t live for more than a day or two without a host, concentrate on your child’s scalp rather than on the house.
If lice infestation is something that you are familiar with, you may want to try a homemade delousing shampoo. There aren’t any scientific studies to prove that this recipe works, but many customers have used the following recipe with success. It’s a great preventative shampoo as well.
3/4 cup (180 mL) warm water
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender oil
5 drops hair shampoo
Combine all ingredients and use mixture to wash hair. Leave lather in hair for 5 minutes, being careful to avoid getting in eyes. Rinse and repeat until you’re sure all lice and nits are gone.
By the way, this also works for dogs and fleas! (I swear by it).