What Are Head Lice?…
Just the words head lice can induce a sense of panic into the most laid back parents and are guaranteed to get our scalps twitching with nonexistent itches – unless of course you do have head lice and if so the itching is totally normal. Just thinking about writing this post has got me intermittently scratching my head and not because I am stuck for words either!
Head lice are small parasites that make themselves at home in our hair and feed on relatively small amounts of blood. Younger children are more prone to catching head lice than older children or adults, but no one is immune as they spread easily from person to person.
The reason that younger children are more prone to catching head lice is because they tend to play near each other and if their heads are almost touching the lice can easily crawl from one head to another via the hair. Girls catch head lice more often as their longer hair makes it easier for the head lice to travel from one head to the next.
It is important to know that whilst catching head lice maybe irritating and a pain in the bum, they pose no threat to our general health; they do not spread diseases nor do they make a bee line for dirty hair. So whether your child has clean or dirty hair makes no difference the the lice.
Signs That Your Child May Have Head Lice…
A good sign that your child may have head lice is if you notice your child scratching their head a lot, but by the time you have noticed your child scratching they may have had head lice for a few days or more. The scratching is caused by a reaction to saliva of the lice that is transferred when they feed on blood and is nothing to worry about.
Although a child that digs and scratches the bites is at risk of causing infection through their finger nails.
Another sign that your child may have head lice are the nits. Nits are the eggs of the head lice and will be tiny, but visible near the hair line of the child. Nits can be a cream/yellow colour or brown in colour, so how easily they can be spotted depends on the colour of your child’s hair and the colour of the nits.
A Good Habit To Get Into…
If you have a young child who goes to nursery or school it is wise to keep an eye out for head lice as catching them early is the best way to avoid spreading the lice. If you only check your child’s head when you see them scratching and you find head lice, then there is a good chance that they have had them for a while and have passed them onto their friends and other family members – bet you just scratched your head then!
If you get into the habit of checking your child’s hairline weekly for nits, the chances of the neighbourhood getting head lice is greatly reduced!
Checking your child for nits will only take a couple of minutes. You just need to check around the hairline for nits, which are oval in shape and will be firmly attached to be hair shaft close to the scalp. As the lice lay their eggs close to the head, the further away from the scalp the eggs/nits are the longer your child has had them.
I remember when I was at school – all those years ago – there was a nurse we fondly called Nitty Nora used to go around the schools checking all the children for head lice. She came maybe once a term right up until we went to high school. I am not sure if there is such a nurse anymore, but what a job!
Oh No My Child Has Head Lice!..Now What?…
So you’ve found evidence that your child has head lice, just the sight of one nit is a good enough indication to take measures against them spreading, as where there is a nit there is a head louse.
There are a number of products that are available from chemists that will kill off head lice and their nits, but they tend to be very harsh and extremely expensive. I would never recommend using a chemical product as I found a much cheaper, less harsh, but still as effective way of getting rid of them.
The first time my children got head lice I went on a mission to find a natural and effective way of getting rid of them as my daughter has very sensitive skin, she couldn’t even use Johnsons baby products as they bought her out in a nasty rash. And I found one that at first I must admit I was dubious about, but I gave it a try as I felt I had no choice and I am really glad that I did as it was cheap and it worked.
How To Get Rid Of Head Lice Without Using Harsh Chemicals…
The ‘magic’ treatment I used was plain old mayonnaise and cheapest brand at that!
It’s the oil and the vinegar in the mayonnaise that eliminates the head lice and nits. The oil coats the head lice and nits suffocating them, the nits maybe only eggs, but they still need oxygen to survive. The vinegar dissolves the ‘glue’ that the lice use to attach the nits to the hair shaft, so that when you run a fine toothed comb through the hair they comb out.
What You Will Need To Do A Treatment…
- A jar of cheap mayonnaise.
- A shower cap.
- A nit comb or fine toothed comb. Nit combs are cheap and can be bought in most pharmacies.
- A bottle of cheap hair conditioner.
Firstly I would recommend that you put your child into old clothes as the oil in the mayonnaise may ruin good clothes.
Apply a very generous amount of mayonnaise to your child’s clean hair. Making sure that the hair is well coated from the roots to the tips, then pop on the shower cap. If your child has long hair it’s a good idea to clip the hair up under the cap, to help prevent getting mayonnaise everywhere.
Leave the mayonnaise on their hair for three hours – the longer the better really. I found that this was one time it was good to put children in front of the television as it keeps them still and calm.
After a bit you may notice that the oil from the mayonnaise starts to run as it warms up. If your child is old enough give them an old towel or some kitchen roll to wipe their forehead.
When the time is up, wash their hair using plenty of shampoo to break down the oil, then towel dry the hair and apply liberal amounts of conditioner.
When you have done that you need to comb through the hair with a fine toothed comb or a proper nit comb, as you comb you may see the lice in the conditioner on the comb. After each stroke of the comb rinse it under a tap or in a bowl of warm water. You could even do this part whilst your child is in the bath, at least then the mess is kept to a minimum and they could be happily playing
Once you have combed through the hair thoroughly just rinse off the conditioner like normal.
When your child’s hair dries you will notice it is really soft and silky as the oil in the mayonnaise acts like an intense conditioning treatment – I now use mayonnaise on my own hair during the summer instead of paying for expensive hair masks.
To ensure that your child is head lice free you should repeat the treatment about a week later to kill off any live that may have survived the first treatment. This is quite normal for chemical treatments too.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure…
After my children got head lice for the second time, I thought that it was probably a lot less hassle to prevent them catching head lice in the first place. I found that there were a number of different head lice repellants available from pharmacies and most of them were made with essential oils making them safe to use on children.
I used a one made by Propoline, which had a pleasant smell of essential oils that head lice find repulsive. Every morning before school I sprayed the children’s hair with the repellant and it must have worked as they never has head lice again.
Fancy a laugh? Now watch the video…
Have you got a natural way of getting rid of head lice? Feel free to share your knowledge in the comments below…
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