Have you looked for those creepy crawlers in your child’s hair?
I teach about natural remedies, and thankfully my kids prove to be great guinea pigs that I can test things out on. Kind of fun… but not so fun when one of them shows up with lice in her hair!
YIKES! I thought I had done everything to prevent it from happening in my house so to find these in my daughter’s hair was pretty humbling. But experience makes you a better learner and teacher.
You might come in contact with them sooner or later if your child is a child and if they attend school! Thankfully our experience didn’t last long, but it was tiring to say the least. Now I’m a new advocate for lice checking and good safe treatment!
What is lice and where do these creepy crawlers come from?
Head lice are parasites which are partial to humans. You can not get them from an animal. They are crawling insects and cannot hop, jump or fly. They are small wingless insects which feed on human blood, which they need in order to survive. Lice in their full form are about the size of a sesame seed. Nits are the eggs laid by the female which then attach to the shaft of a piece of hair. This is what often makes it so hard to get rid of. The eggs or nits are glued to the hair.
Head lice can live about 30 days on a host and the female can lay up to 100 eggs or nits. When off their human hosts, lice will starve, and most will not survive for more than 24 hours off its human host.
How will I know if my child has lice?
Often itching is the first sign. Sometimes you might see little bites similar to mosquitoes around the base of the neck. Simple inspection can reveal the mature lice, but the best way to know for sure is to use a special lice comb to check.
What can be done to treat it?
Conventional treatment has you reach for a couple of different insecticide type shampoos: NIX (the chemical permethrin) and RID (the chemical pyrethrum).
Different places you look will tell you these are relatively safe , but this is where I have to step in and say they are not safe for children. Especially children who might be compromised in any way- be that a child who struggles with asthma, epilepsy, poor immunity or sensitivity to chemicals. Little bodies have a harder time detoxifying chemicals like these and there are no studies to show what the long term effects could be. A lot of these call for putting them on hair overnight in a showercap. That is a good 9-10 hours with a chemical on your child’s head- quite a long time for absorption. And the skin is one of the largest organs that absorbs chemicals. I would recommend avoiding the insecticide shampoos at all costs!
So WHAT can you do that is safe ?
Here is an ironic tale. When the lice showed up in our house, I was to teach a class on natural remedies a few days later and guess what? Lice was on the docket to be taught. How is that for timing! Thankfully I was a little in the know, but boy did I learn a lot more.
I chose not to use the harsh chemicals and go the natural route. My 7 year old sort of freaked out when she realized what was happening and what it meant. So I reached for a great homeopathic remedy to combat lice and frustrations.
The magic of Staphysagaria:
I gave it to her every 30 minutes for three doses the first night while we shampooed, and put a lot of things in the wash. If your child is susceptible to lice infestations there is another homeopathic remedy called psorinum that you could use to break the cycle.
We also opted to use some essential oils in her shampoo. They included tea tree oil, lavender and eucalyptus oil. These create an environment that the lice don’t like. We simply put a few drops of each into the shampoo. Also we heated a little olive oil and coconut oil and put it on her hair overnight with a shower cap to suffocate any remaining critters. I hear mayonnaise is just as effectiveJ
The other magical tool? The little metal comb. For the first 48 hours I was on it like stink on poop and combed her hair in little sections at least 3 times a day to make sure we didn’t have any more critters or nits left. After about 36 hours, we found no more critters OR nits! YAY! The comb helps mechanically remove the lice and nits. The nits are particularly tough to remove because they secrete glue that helps them latch on to the hair shaft. No insecticide or even shampoo can get the glue to loosen, only mechanical means can. We continued to use the comb daily and remained nit free.
What can be done to prevent it?
Some research has shown that a strong immune system keeps them away… so keep up the probiotics, goldenseal and echinacea for this. We do periodically use a few drops of the above mentioned essential oils in shampoo as well – but you can see we STILL got lice doing this. The best thing I have discovered and learned about is using the comb. We now own one, so I am going to use it every now and then to comb through my girls hair. It will do two things… 1) verify if they have lice or not because the comb will pull out any nits or lice bugs 2) it will prevent any egg infestation from growing as you can pull the eggs off with the brushing.
Give the gift of the comb…..
You can get them at most drug stores, but one resource that I have found invaluable during our ordeal is theLicemeister comb. You can check it out at headlice.org and here is what they say about the comb “This tool has been tested on real kids with real lice by real moms. The LiceMeister® combing tool enables parents to screen regularly, detect head lice early, and deal with them as safely and effectively as possible”
Check out Positive Health Wellness for more tips and tricks on how to remove lice.
And here is a link to a great video on how to comb out the lice.