Head lice are little whitish or brown/grey insects that live in hair and Nits are the eggs that the lice hatch from. They commonly affect children aged 4-11.
Whilst they are generally harmless, head lice can cause scalp irritation and live a long time if they aren’t treated. It is the presence of lice in the hair that shows there’s an infestation, other signs include little white ‘nits’ attached firmly to hairs, a rash on the back of the neck or an Itchy scalp.
As always, prevention is better than cure, so the ideal is to to minimize chances of a lice infestation by:
- Tying long hair up while at school or with other children.
- Regular brushing.
- Once a week or so do a quick nit check. Look behind the ears, under the fringe and at the nape of the neck and ideally comb with a fine-toothed nit comb.
- Put a drop of lavender onto your child’s hairbrush before using it in the mornings. This may help deter the lice from climbing into your child’s hair.
- If head lice are doing the rounds at school/nursery then use a tea tree, neem or quassia shampoo once a week and spray your child’s head with a Quassia rinse or tincture every other day before they leave the house.
If you find lice or nits:
Wash the hair with a tea tree or neem shampoo and then apply a tea tree conditioner. The conditioner stops the lice from moving around so whilst it is in, comb the hair in sections with a fine tooth nit comb to remove as many of the lice and nits as you can. Wipe any lice/nits off the comb as you go and go over the whole head twice. Rinse the conditioner out and then follow with a quassia bark rinse (see below).
Repeat this every 2 to 3 days for 2 weeks to kill all the lice and ensure than any remaining eggs have been removed/hatched.
It is wise to check the whole family for lice if one of you has them.
Make your own: Quassia Bark Rinse
To make the rinse, add a good handful of quassia bark chips (available from a herbalist or local health food store) to a litre of boiling water and leave to soak overnight. Strain, then put into a bottle or container. Stored in the fridge it will last for about a week. Spray onto head using a spray bottle and leave in if possible. It doesn’t smell unpleasant but you can add a drop or two of lavender to the bottle to give it a scent. If you prefer to make a tincture, this has a longer shelf life. I suggest using 1 part dried bark to 5 parts alcohol and steeping for at least 2 weeks.
Blend your own tea tree and coconut shampoo/conditioner
You can buy a coconut shampoo and add your own tea tree oil at 60 drops of tea tree oil per 100ml of shampoo. Alternatively, you can add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the shampoo in your hand just before you apply it to your child’s scalp. You can do the same to make up a tea tree conditioner.
Essential oil treatment
Essential oils of eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree and rosemary can be used in a base of olive oil at 1 drop per ml. Make up 20-50ml oil depending on length of hair. Massage in, leave over night and rinse.
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