Treating Head Lice Naturally Using Essential Oils
Head lice are nasty, wingless flat insects which infest human hair, laying eggs and feeding on blood by biting the scalp. They are usually between two and four millimetres in length, and the female attaches the eggs, commonly known as nits, to the hair near the scalp. The eggs hatch every seven to eight days and an untreated head can become heavily infested within a couple of weeks.
Lice are passed from head to head through direct contact. They cannot jump, but do run very fast. For this reason they are most common in school children below the age of fourteen. It is thought that this is because children often sit with their heads close together, and this makes it easy for the lice to transfer from one head to another.
Although as yet there is no scientific proof that essential oils will rid a head of lice, there is a great deal of colloquial evidence available. It is widely accepted that the use of tea tree is more beneficial, especially when used on a child's head, than some proprietary brands, which are known to contain industrial chemicals and insecticides.
Wet combing is the established method for removing lice and nits from the hair. This requires some time and considerable patience, combing for up to half an hour before the infestation is clear. This needs to be repeated daily over a number of days, and then repeated weekly in order to check for re-infestation.
Using a combination of essential oils during washing the hair helps to cut down the length of time needed for combing, and to prevent re-infestation. Take your favourite brand of shampoo and mix it with three tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of tea tree oil, and one teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. Apply the mixture to the hair and leave in for an hour before rinsing. The combination of tea tree and eucalyptus is thought to either suffocate the lice, or numb them sufficiently to make them easy to comb out.
Once the lice have been removed, it's advisable to add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to your normal conditioner once a week as a precaution and comb through the hair to check that the lice have not returned. One of the biggest problems with school aged children is re-infestation. If there is only one child in the class with an untreated infestation, then the whole class is at risk. If one member of the family is infected then it is wise to check the heads of everyone else in the household to make sure they are not affected as well.
With normal head lice there is not usually any need to clean bed linen and pillows etc., as the lice do not leave the head or nest anywhere else. Care should be taken not to overuse the oils, as they can be overpowering for children. Don't use more than one treatment a week, and rely on wet combing to get the remainder out.
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