Tips on Treating Head Lice

We all know about those pesky lice that live among human hair and feed on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp, right? Unfortunately, lice are an extremely common problem in kids. Not only are they contagious, they are extremely annoying and getting rid of them is a battle unto its own. But while they are extremely frustrating to deal with, you can rest-assured that they are not dangerous. They don’t spread disease, even though their bites can make your child’s scalp irritated and itchy, and scratching can lead to infection.

It is extremely important for you to treat head lice quickly once you find them. This is because lice can spread very easily from person to person and this is something that should be avoided. The one thing that should be mentioned here is that having head lice in no way means that you or your kid is dirty. Children are typically affected by lice, but just about anyone with hair can catch them. They tend to crawl from head to head when you are close to someone who has them. For this reason, children are particularly at risk as they’re often in close contact with other kids at school. If your kid has head lice, then follow these tips to get rid of them:

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7 Treat lice with olive oil

The olive oil treatment needs to be repeated for a few days to achieve the best results. The best days for this purpose are 1, 2, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21. These days are said to be best in terms of disrupting the life cycle of the louse and maximizes your chances of eliminating all the lice in your child’s head. It is highly recommended for you to adhere to these treatment days to ensure that all lice and nits are eliminated from your child’s head. However, if it is absolutely necessary for you, feel free to adjust the treatment days as long you as you apply the treatment every 3-4 days.

To begin the treatment, use an applicator bottle filled with olive oil, and part your child’s hair. Once done, apply the olive oil directly onto the scalp and massage it in thoroughly. Make sure that you apply enough oil to saturate the hair and scalp. If your child is old enough, cover her head with a plastic shower cap and keep it in place using a bathing cap or bandanna so that you don’t have to worry about the mess. In case you choose to use a bandanna, knot it at the top of your child’s head so that it doesn’t interfere with her sleep. The olive oil basically needs to be left in for about eight hours.

What next?

After eight hours, remove the bandanna and the shower cap and comb through your child’s head using a lice comb. Repeat the procedure for a few days and the lice, together with their nits, will be gone.

6 Wet combing

Also known as bug-busting, the wet combing treatment of lice is a means of removing head lice without having to use anti-lice sprays or lotions to kill them. This method basically needs to be repeated a few times, four days apart to ensure that all lice are done away with. Also, you need to do this on every single member of your household just to make sure that nobody passes on lice to each other.

On the whole, it is going to take up to an hour for you to do a proper and effective wet combing session. Also, it is necessary for you to use the correct tooth comb for this method to be effective. You just need a single kit for your family considering that these are reusable and washable. To begin wet combing, wash your child’s hair with ordinary shampoo and apply lots of ordinary conditioner. Leave in the conditioner and comb your child’s hair with a normal comb to do away with the tangles. Now use the comb and draw it through your child’s hair. For this, you need to slot the teeth of the comb into the hair at the roots so that it touches the scalp. Once done, draw it through to the tips of the hair and make sure that all parts of her hair are combed through.

Keep an eye on the comb

Each time you comb through your kid’s hair, make sure that you check the comb for lice. If need be, use a magnifying glass. In case the comb has lice on it, clean it by rinsing the comb or wiping it on a tissue before the next stroke. Once done, rinse out the conditioner and repeat the procedure every four days. 

5 Check everyone in your household for lice

When treating your kid, it is extremely important for you to check others in the household for lice too. If possible, it is best for you to check other family members before treating the one with an infestation. Once that’s done with, then treat the one who is infected so as to avoid them all passing lice back and forth to each other.

Also, it is vital for you to inform close friends and schoolmates so that they may check their own heads too. As a parent, you should also wash clothing or bedding used by your kid with lice at least in the past 48 hours before treatment to kill any lice that may have come off her hair. Although it makes sense for you to wash your kid’s favorite stuffed toy, quarantining all toys and stuffed animals or taking up extreme cleaning really isn’t necessary, even if it is recommended at times. In case you want to avoid having to wash everything, just put everything in the drier for a few minutes to kill them.

Treatment for suspected nits

As opposed to live lice, treatment for suspected nits doesn’t really make much sense considering that nits are extremely hard to identify. Also, don’t be too concerned about any nits you may find far from the scalp because they are no longer viable and may just be a relic of an old infestation. Treating head lice is extremely important for anyone with an infestation. However, all other family members should be checked for lice too so that the lice is not passed back and forth between them.

4 Medicated shampoos, cream rinses and lotions

If you ask your doctor, he may be able to recommend a cream rinse, medicated shampoo or lotion to get rid of the lice in your child’s hair. These can be prescription or OTV medications depending on the other treatments that you may have used so far. Although medicated lice treatments tend to kill both the lice and their nits, it is going to take a few days for the itching to subside. However, in case your child has very resistant lice, the doctor may deem it necessary for her to have an oral medication to get rid of them.

In case the doctor prescribes an oral medication for your child, make sure that you question him about the medicine being safe for her. Although over-the-counter shampoos are safe for children as young as 2 months old, there are medicines that are considered safe only for kids that are 2 years and older. Also, these products are basically insecticides, which deems it necessary for you to follow the directions exactly. Using the medicine too frequently or applying too much of it may cause harm, which is why you should follow the directions given on the product label.

Proper treatment

If you don’t use the medication correctly, there is a good chance that treatment is going to remain unsuccessful. The treatment may also not be effective in case the lice have developed resistance to it. After the treatment, you should also comb out the nits with a fine-tooth comb, and repeat the process in about 7 to 10 days so that any newly hatched nits can be killed.

3 Sprays or lotions

Another method of treating head lice is the utilization of sprays or lotions. However, it is extremely important for you to use these carefully and correctly for the treatment to be effective. Over-the-counter lotions or sprays can be recommended by a pharmacists and he will also advise you on how it needs to be used so that the treatment is effective.

Lotions or sprays should only be used when you find a living (moving) louse in your child’s head. The utilization of cream rinses isn’t really recommended for this purpose considering that they are not as effective. While you are at it, make sure that you purchase enough lotion or spray for your entire family to be treated (in case everyone is affected). Also, you should use enough of the lotion or spray to coat the scalp as well as the length of your child’s hair during each application. For effective treatment, it is highly recommended for you to follow the directions given on the lotion or spray. Although it depends on the product you are using, the amount of time for which you will need to leave the lotion or spray on the head may vary from 10 minutes to eight hours.

A few other tips

The best thing for you to do in order to ensure results is to treat your child’s hair and then repeat the treatment after seven days. If possible, remove dead lice and nits after the treatment using a fine-toothed comb. After using the product of your choice, it is vital for you to check for baby lice that may have hatched from the eggs three to five days later and again after 10-12 days. 

2 Essential oils

There are a few natural ‘smothering and suffocating’ treatments that are known to work rather effectively. However, for these to work, it is necessary for you to follow the instructions. Also, you should know that it is basically the combing part of this treatment that does the work. The ‘smothering and suffocating’ part basically just stuns the lice and makes them slower, thereby making it possible for them to be caught on the comb much more easily.

The essential oils that you can use for this particular treatment are inclusive of:

  • Lavender oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Nutmeg oil
  • Clove oil
  • Neem oil
  • Aniseed oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Red thyme oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cinnamon leaf oil

For the treatment, just mix 2 ounces of olive oil with 15 to 20 drops of essential oil. Apply this mixture to the scalp with the help of cotton balls. Leave this mixture overnight on the scalp and hair – or for at least 12 hours if you apply it during the day. Alternatively, take 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol and add in the 15 to 20 drops of essential oil to it. Use a spray bottle to saturate the hair with this mixture and leave it in for 12 hours.

The next morning

Comb out your child’s hair the following morning then shampoo and rinse it. Once done, repeat the process. Use the alcohol-essential oil spray as a preventive treatment once all the lice have been eliminated. While you are at it, don’t forget to comb out the hair to make sure that all the lice are removed.

1 Garlic can kill lice too

Garlic has a very strong fragrance that tends to suffocate lice and kills them eventually. For this treatment option, you need to grind eight to 10 garlic cloves and form a paste by mixing in two to three teaspoons of lime juice. Once done, apply the mixture onto the scalp as thoroughly as possible. Leave on the mixture on your child’s scalp for about half an hour and then rinse it out with hot water.

Another lice treatment that involves garlic is that of combining fresh garlic juice with a bit of cooking oil, green tea, lemon extract and a bit of shampoo and conditioner. Now apply the paste thoroughly over the scalp and cover the head using a shower cap or towel for about half an hour. Wash your child’s hair using regular shampoo and repeat on a weekly basis for about two months. Remember, lice hate garlic and it makes it less likely for them to reattach to the hair. But for this treatment to be effective, make sure that you repeat it every week.

Salt can help too

Salt can assist in killing head lice through ‘desiccation’. For this treatment, mix about one-quarter cup of sale and one-quarter cup of vinegar. Spray the solution on to your child’s hair to the point that it becomes slightly wet. Leave it on for about two hours and cover her hair with a shower cap. Wash her hair and repeat it every three days for the best results. To ensure that all lice are eradicated from her head, make sure that you use a fine-tooth comb as well after washing her hair.

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