By Kate Whimster, ND
Originally published in our Fall 2013 newsletter
Thanks to Judy Gibbs, receptionist at Kew Beach Naturopathic Clinic, for her recipe to stop lice!
School is in full swing and that means that children are prime targets for the delightful head louse! Lice aren’t dangerous and do not spread disease, but they are a common, highly contagious problem for children and parents alike!
Signs of head lice:
- Visible lice eggs (nits): Tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots (or white once hatched) on the hair shaft close to the scalp. They can look like dandruff, but can’t be easily brushed off.
- Live lice: Adult lice are no larger than a sesame seed and grey-white or tan in colour. Baby lice (nymphs) are even smaller!
- Scratching: Lice feed on blood, and lice bites can cause itching and scratching, which can result in small, red, irritated bumps.
To eliminate head lice:
- Saturate hair thoroughly with a non-irritating conditioner or oil (eg: coconut oil).
- Cover hair with a shower cap, and sleep overnight with hair saturated. This helps smother the lice.
- The next morning, rinse conditioner out of hair using vinegar and water.
- Under a bright light (you can add a magnifying glass if you like), comb through hair with a special nit-picking comb to remove all eggs. Rinse the comb periodically with vinegar water solution. Take your time and be very thorough – if you miss even one egg, the infestation will continue!
- You may choose to use a kit, such as Treemenda’s Lice Stop Kit which uses ingredients with minimal toxicity. Make sure to exactly follow the directions in the kit.
- Avoid using harsh insecticide-containing solutions which are toxic to both lice and children!
To prevent recurrence:
- Discard any brushes or combs that may carry lice and replace with new ones.
- Place all pillows and stuffed animals that may have been exposed in the freezer for 24 hours.
- Wash all clothing and bedding in hot water and dry at high heat for at least 50 minutes.
- Keep long hair tied back during possible exposure, ideally in a French braid.
- Keep a spray bottle with tea tree oil diluted in water by your front door and spray hair before leaving the house.
- Avoid sharing hats, scarves, combs, brushes, etc that may transmit lice.
- Inspect clothing, hair, brushes, and combs regularly for lice or nits – at the first sign, repeat the entire process again!