The kid’s got head lice, again? Ecomum offers her natural tips.
Oh the joys of back to school, done with all the holidays (for now), found bliss in returning to a routine and actually drinking my tea while it’s still hot. Then being a mum and thinking this is just too good to be true (because you know it is), you see your child having a veritably good scratch of her head.
On closer inspection head lice are the culprit and action is demanded. Living in the Middle East, there always seems to be rounds of head live thriving at schools. There are healthy ways to do it.
Conventional treatment for head lice is not an inviting option, the off-the-shelf shampoos and treatments from your pharmacy all contain insecticides. These shampoos are recommended to be left on the hair for several minutes: they might be killing the critters but they can also be absorbed through your child’s scalp into their bodies – a big no, no!
Some of the nasties, an insectide called Lindane can have some very bad side effects (read about it on Natural News blog), and when you realize that lice don’t actually pose medical risks it seems crazy to endanger your child’s health with these chemicals. They are also not 100% effective. If you do go down the chemical road it is advised never to follow one treatment with a different one and always follow the instructions. Chemicals can react!
More facts about headice
A few facts about the dreaded lice to get us better equipped: these little fiends do not see our child’s head and leap from classmate to classmate. Children are friendly and heads rub together, and they like to share brushes, ribbons and hats. Once the lice are in place they get busy, laying between 3-5 eggs per day and they live for about 30 days, not a pleasant thought. Lice are not fussy either and it does not matter how clean or dirty the child is!
So what to do? The best thing to start off with is a preventative treatment:
1. A new brush: First up, make sure each member of your family has his or her own hairbrush and it is important to teach your children the importance of not sharing brushes. My first ever case of head lice as a child was after letting a friend brush my hair with her brush. Next, same goes for hats, this may seem unreasonable but once you have a case of head lice at home you’ll appreciate the wisdom.
2. Shampoos and oils: Use an oil based shampoo, such as olive oil or coconut as these are not friendly to lice bodies, adding a few drops of essential oils can also work such as tea tree oil or rosemary, though be careful about contraindications. Tea tree oil is contraindicated with babies, small children and mums to-be. Look for professionally mixed shampoos and conditioners, though keep the ingredients natural.
I am a big fan of Jason Natural cosmetics but am yet to find them here in Israel. Maybe they are imported to other parts of the Middle East. If not, they should be. Other essential oils that have been found helpful in the prevention of head lice are eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender, apparently head lice just don’t like the smell. So if you’re inclined add a few drops to your hairbrushes, hats etc. Though again remember only lavender and tea tree oil can be used neat on the skin and always check for contraindications. Just because they are natural does not mean they are harmless.
3. Time to knit out the nits: Okay, so prevention hasn’t worked and your child is still itching their head in frustration and the temptation to zap the head lice with shampoos is high. Please take a breath and go and get a good nit comb, at the end of the day they really are the only effective treatment. Now this may mean a lot of screams and tears for those with lovely long tresses but to date it is the most effective and natural way to get rid of this little foe.
4. Don’t forget to vacuum and wash: Another must is your handy vacuum cleaner. Wash down the bedding in a hot wash (don’t forget hats and ribbons too) and vacuum pillows and cushions that come into contact with your heads; although head lice need human heads to live they can survive up to 24 hours without us, so get them before they get you!
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[image via finkelez]