Head lice can be a frustrating and difficult parasitic insects to eliminate. According to the Mayo Clinic, lice are the second most communicable diseases amongst school children. Lice can easily spread by personal contact and are highly contagious. There are many ways to treat head lice, including the employment of insecticides to kill the insects. However, there are nontoxic ways to rid yourself of these insects.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should wash, soak, or dry items that may contain lice in temperatures greater than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have children, wash their bedding, clothes and stuffed animals in hot soapy water. When drying items, be sure to do so for more than 20 minutes to kill any lice or nits (hatchlings). You can also dry-clean items, if doing the laundering yourself seems daunting.
When you have young children (younger than 3 years), the application of medicated shampoos can be potentially harmful for your child. You may consider delousing your child with a fine-tooth comb. Pediatrician Dr. Greene recommends using a product called LiceMeister, which can be bought online. The comb has small teeth that are placed closely together and remove lice effectively, without pulling your child's hair out. Prior to combing your child's hair, wet the hair and liberally apply conditioner throughout the hair. Then pull the comb through the hair, removing any lice that you see.
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
This treatment can be messy, so if using on your child, make sure to place a towel over your child's pillow before bedtime. Liberally apply Vaseline throughout the hair, and cover your child's head with a shower cap overnight. The next morning, wash the Vaseline out of your child's hair. Don't use regular shampoo, as regular shampoo isn't effective enough to wash out the vaseline. Using dish soaps such as Palmolive or Seventh Generation works better since they have a degreasing product contained in the soap. Once you have shampooed the vaseline out of your child's hair, begin the delousing process with a fine-toothed comb.
A good shampoo that works just as well as medicated products is this recipe for home-made delousing. The oils can be bought at health food markets, such as Whole Foods. For the shampoo, you mix three tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of tea tree oil and one teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. Once you mix these ingredients, combine them with a small amount of shampoo (about a teaspoon). Apply this mixture to your hair, and cover with a shower cap for up to 30 minutes. This shampoo can hurt the eyes if it gets into them. If using on a child, be sure to watch your little one. It may take two full shampoos to wash the mixture out of your hair. Once your hair is washed, use a fine-tooth comb to delouse your head.
Once you have become infested with lice, it can become a difficult process to rid yourself of these parasites. Prevention is beneficial to avoiding an infestation. Floors should be vacuumed every day to clear out any possible live lice and nits. Bedding and unwashable items can be placed in air-tight bags for up to four days to kill lice. Soak combs or brushes, barrettes, hair ties and headbands in rubbing alcohol for at least an hour. Children are more susceptible to getting head lice, so advise them on how to prevent an infestation. According to Kids Health, warn your children to not use other children's hair products, such as brushes or towels. Warn your children to avoid head-to-head contact when playing. Do not lie on products that have been used by someone who is infected with head lice. Simple methods such as these can help you avoid a potential head lice annoyance.