Got Lice?

I wrote this for my practice’s site, but I thought I’d share it here as well.  It’s about that time of year again.   The original post is here.

Lice.  The word makes me shiver.  It doesn’t bother me as much if my livestock get it, because it is species specific.  I know how to control it on my animals, and I’m able to do preventative care.   Children socializing with others — not so much.

When my children were in public school, I dreaded getting that letter.  Of course, one time I received the “your child has lice” letter it was for the daughter who had the longest and thickest hair. She was also the one who HATED having her hair brushed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know then what I know now, and I shortly found myself with not only lice having a party on her head but also a reaction to the chemical treatment. Now I know there are natural ways to deal with it.

I think many parents know the hassle of deep cleaning everything in the house.  Vacuum every inch of floors, rugs, and furniture preferably using a bagged vacuum.  Once you’re done,  put the vacuum bag in a trash bag and throw it away outside the house.  Toss all combs and brushes and replace with new.  You can try boiling them, but the amount of time needed will ruin most hair care products.

Put all non-washable stuffed animals in a garbage bag, seal tightly and stick outside in a carport or garage for 3-4 weeks.  Leaving them in the sunlight for a few hours is also very helpful. If they can go through the dryer, put them in on high for 2-3 hours. Wash and dry all clothing and pillows on the hottest settings. If that will ruin them, put them in a sealed garbage bag outside as well.  Personally, I’d toss the sleeping pillow.  I highly recommend you buy a nit comb.  You can find one at any local drug store.

Of course, while you’re doing all of this, you’re also dealing with the lice that are squatting on your child’s head and ignoring their eviction notice.  For this recipe you will need plastic wrap, bathing cap or shower cap (for older children who understand not to mess with it).

A note of caution: some essential oils cannot be used on small children.  Others can be used, but need to be heavily diluted in a carrier oil.  Please be careful which ones you use. I do not recommend using any oils (diluted or not) on a child under three.

This will make a half cup of lice oil.   It should keep for about 6 months or so if kept covered and in a cool, dark place.

Head Lice Oil for Children (ages 3 and up):

1/2 cup of olive oil (you can use other carrier oils, but watch for rancidity when stored)

30-40 drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, or geranium essential oil.  Children over 7 can use drops of rosemary or thyme.

Add the drops of the essential oil to the olive oil and mix well.  Carefully rub it onto your child’s scalp making sure not to get it in his or her eyes.  Use enough to coat all of the scalp and hair, but not enough that it’s “drippy”. Cover the child’s hair with the cap or plastic wrap.  Leave it on overnight, 10-12 hours or, for the younger ones, as long as you can get them to keep it on.

Afterwards, wash with a mild, natural shampoo.  You can add 2 – 5 drops of any of the above oils to 1/2 cup of shampoo for an added defense.  Tea tree oil is best for this, but any of the oils listed will work.  Remember to keep it age appropriate.

When combing out nits, especially for light-haired children, do it in sunlight or use a very bright light.

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