How to Treat Head Lice in Your Child’s Natural Hair

(Last Updated On: November 18, 2014)

Lice infestation is just one of the many annoying ailments which many children have to go through.  Although they are only as tiny as sesame seeds, head lice are easy to be seen with the naked eye, unless your child happens to have thick hair. What could be more difficult to see are the eggs (also called nits) that are laid by adult lice in your child’s hair.

How did your child end up with bugs on her head?

Head lice are wingless pests with 6 legs, so they can’t fly from head to head, but they are able to spread easily amongst children because kids are very touchy and generous with each other. A simple head-to-head contact during recess, sharing of combs, hats, pillows, beddings or simply playing with each other’s hair creates a vehicle for the pests to travel from one child to the other.

One thing to note is that head lice does not live on pets and other surfaces, so you don’t need to blame scruffy for spreading the ticks on him on your child. Also, head lice infestation is not due to personal hygiene, so there’s no need to wash your child’s hair three times a day.

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Hanging on for dear life

 How to tell if  your child has head lice

A child with head lice will start to feel a tickling and crawling sensation on her head before she starts to itch obsessively. Depending on your child’s sensitivity to the lice, she might not notice until days after the first contact. The itchiness that a child feels is due to a chemical reaction in the saliva of the louse when it sucks on the child’s blood . A child typically has about 10-20 lice living on her scalp, directly feeding on your child’s blood.  The eggs they lay live just a few millimeters away from the scalp, clinging tightly to your child’s roots. So if you start to notice excessive itching and red bumps on your child’s scalp due to the itchiness, you will immediately need to get to the root of the problem. Start by looking behind the ears and in the nape area. It’s also important to know that head lice doesn’t carry any virus, so your child won’t get sick from it.

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How do get rid of head lice in your child’s hair

Like any annoying infestation, head lice can be treated through medications and topical treatments. Just be sure that you don’t overdo it, as these treatments are pesticides which are meant to get rid of the pests in your child’s hair, not the other way around. Also, please don’t spray your child’s hair with raid or any can of bug killer you have at home.

Some other common treatments involves using a fine tooth comb to comb the lice out while the hair is drenched with conditioner. It’s recommended for the parent to do this a few times a week over a period of two weeks or until the child is completely head lice free. The only problem with this particular treatment is that afro hair and fine tooth comb just doesn’t go together.

Another type of treatment which is universal to all hair type is the anti-fungal hot oil treatment which can be done by combining a few drops of anti-fungal essential oils such as tea tree oil, neem oil, eucalyptus oil, clove oil and peppermint oil in a carrier oil such as olive oil. Apply this oil blend to your child’s hair, cover her hair with a shower cap and let the treatment sit in for a few hours. Then, gently comb out your child’s hair to remove the lice and then wash off the treatment with a shampoo. You can also apply some of the oil blend in her hair as a post treatment. This oil treatment is meant to lubricate the hair strands, making it too slippery and greasy for the lice to cling to.

Other home treatments includes applying mayonnaise to the hair or rinsing the hair with vinegar. It’s recommended for the parent to do these hair treatments on a daily basis or a few times in a week until the lice is completely gone. If you’re into ayurvedic treatments, then I recommend these two remedies by homeveda. The only thing I would suggest is to blend the almonds into fine powder, so it can be easily washed off.

Moving Forward

While your child’s hair is being treated, it’s important to check other kids in the house to make sure that they don’t get the lice too. You should also report the issue to your child’s teacher so that she knows how to control the other children and avoid having the entire kids in her class scratching their heads. There’s no need to keep your child in quarantine, as the infestation is not air borne. You should also educate your child on the importance of hair hygiene and the consequences of sharing personal items with other people. The good news is that head lice can’t survive more than 3 hours away from the scalp, but it’s best to wash and heat dry your child’s clothes to prevent re-infestation.

Do you have a first hand experience with head lice? How did you treat it?