With the start of school I thought it would be a good idea to visit the fact that head lice can and is spread rapidly between close populations. It is not a matter of hygiene- ANYONE can get head lice-
Head lice are tiny wingless insects that only live on the human head, attaching themselves and their eggs to the hair shaft. Contrary to popular belief, head lice do not spread any disease, and they are not caused by poor hygiene. They are spread by close person-to-person contact.
There are natural ways to take care of a lice invasion which I go into later, but just a little education on what lice are and their life cycle. This will help you understand how to rid you family and home of this socially unacceptable
Life Cycle of head lice:
According to CDC: Head lice biology
Pediculus humanus capitis, the head louse, is an insect of the order Psocodea and is an ectoparasite whose only host are humans. The louse feeds on blood several times daily and resides close to the scalp to maintain its body temperature.
The life cycle of the head louse has three stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
Eggs: Nits are head lice eggs. They are hard to see and are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. Nits are laid by the adult female and are cemented at the base of the hair shaft nearest the scalp . They are 0.8 mm by 0.3 mm, oval and usually yellow to white. Nits take about 1 week to hatch (range 6 to 9 days). Viable eggs are usually located within 6 mm of the scalp.
Nymphs: The egg hatches to release a nymph . The nit shell then becomes a more visible dull yellow and remains attached to the hair shaft. The nymph looks like an adult head louse, but is about the size of a pinhead. Nymphs mature after three molts and become adults about 7 days after hatching.
Adults: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has 6 legs (each with claws), and is tan to grayish-white . In persons with dark hair, the adult louse will appear darker. Females are usually larger than males and can lay up to 8 nits per day. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood several times daily. Without blood meals, the louse will die within 1 to 2 days off the host.
Life cycle image and information courtesy of DPDx
If you or your child winds up with head lice, it’s often possible to treat the problem with tea tree oil. Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs
On top of all this these treatments are neurotoxic.
Natural ways to combat head lice:
Supplies needed: nit comb, salt spray (you can make yourself) shampoo, tea tree oil and/or lavender oil, diatemaceous earth and a mask
Wash household items used by the infested person. Head lice are not caused by poor hygiene. However, they can cling to fabric and household items and could spread from those items to other people, so it’s important to clean and disinfect those items thoroughly.
- Machine wash and heat dry clothing, bed linens, hats, towels, and other fabrics that have come into contact with the infested person. Use hot water and the high heat drying cycle. If the items cannot be machine washed, seal them in a plastic bag and store them for 2 weeks. This will suffocate the lice.
- Soak combs and brushes in very hot water (a minimum of 130°F) for 5-10 minutes, or run them through a hot dishwasher cycle.
- Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture. Head lice cannot survive very long if they can’t feed on humans, but vacuuming will help eliminate any lice that have fallen off a person and keep them from attaching to someone else.
Keep your children away from “head-to-head” contact as much as possible (no headbutting, no sharing pillows at sleepovers, etc.). Encourage them not to share clothing, hats, barrettes, or other items with others. This will help reduce your child’s risk of picking up lice from a friend.
- Using saline spray (yes table salt dissolved in water) can also kill lice. You can make your own solution and spray in hair, apply a few hours before bedtime so that the hair can dry, leave in overnight. Apply daily, testimonials state that within a week their lice problem was resolved.
- Follow up with shampooing with tea tree oil. Take a quarter size dollop of shampoo, add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil, mix and apply to the hair. Tea tree oil is known to kill lice. Use a nit comb to comb out hair, removing dead lice and capturing eggs. Do this daily for a week.
- Diatomaceous earth is a great way to kill lice that may be inhabiting your carpet, bedding, couches. Diatomaceous earth is made up of very small, sharp shells that can harm lungs if breathed. When using DE be sure to wear a mask. Spread on any surfaces that may have contact with lice (couch, floor, pillows, etc) Allow to sit for an hour or so. Vacuum up residual. DE is also good to apply to animals fur to kill fleas. Food grade DE is used in food to kill parasites.
Note: Tea tree oil is an endocrine disruptor in young males. Endocrine disruptors are naturally occurring compounds or synthetic chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of hormones of the endocrine system leading to adverse health effects. A study published out of the New England Journal of Medicine uggests that repeated topical use of products containing lavender oil and/or tea tree oil may cause prepubertal gynecomastia, a rare condition resulting in enlarged breast tissue in boys prior to puberty, and for which a cause is seldom identified.
NOTE THIS IS REPEATED USE OF TEA TREE OIL- Use with caution- however compared to ineffective over the counter toxic shampoos etc I personally would use tea tree oil to get rid of lice- that being said I would limit its use with adult males.