Head lice are tiny insects that feed off your blood and live on your scalp, leading to itching and irritation. Head lice will stay around as long as there are human heads to act as hosts, so it is important to take action as soon as you become aware of a problem. However, many of the chemicals that kill head lice contain ingredients that are toxic to children and pregnant or lactating women, according to MayoClinic.com. If you want to avoid exposure to these chemicals, you may choose to treat and eliminate head lice using natural home remedies. However, it is advisable to consult with a medical professional concerning the elimination of head lice.
Use a fine tooth comb on wet hair to remove the eggs, or nits, and lice. This method can take awhile, so plan on combing out the hair every few days for approximately two weeks. The inherently safe nature of this technique makes it a good way to remove lice and nits from the scalps of infants and toddlers under the age of 2.
Petroleum Jelly or Mayonnaise
Petroleum jelly or mayonnaise may smother lice, says Dr. Alan Greene. Coat hair in petroleum jelly or mayonnaise and then cover the head with a cap or plastic bag and wait at least eight hours. While this method may prove effective, it can take several days to wash the petroleum jelly or mayonnaise from the hair.
You can purchase a device that uses hot air to kill lice and nits. According to The National Women's Health Information Center website, this device uses heated air to kill the nits and lice by drying them out. For parents and others concerned with the use of pesticides and chemicals on the scalp, this is a safe, non-toxic way to eliminate head lice.
You can use tea tree and other oils to remove head lice and nits from the head. Dr. Greene notes that you can combine 3 tbsp. olive oil with 1 tsp. each of tea tree, and rosemary or eucalyptus oil with your regular shampoo. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, and then shampoo and rinse. The oil mixture has a strong smell, so when using this method, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. Also, keep the head tilted back to avoid contact with the eye area. Many essential oils are highly potent and may cause health problems if used for lice removal, according to the American Head Lice Information Center. Consult your doctor before using tea tree or other essential oils to treat lice and nits.
To eliminate lice and nits from bedding and other household objects, seal items in a plastic bag. Lice and nits can only survive for a week or less away from the scalp. For this reason, it is usually unnecessary to spray your home and furniture with pesticides to kill lice and nits. In addition to sealing off infested household items, thoroughly vacuum rugs, couches and other furniture, to remove lice and nits.
- The American Head Lice Information Center: Head Lice to Dead Lice: Head Lice Info
- Mayo Clinic: Head Lice: Treatments and Drugs
- Dr. Greene: Treating Head Lice
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: The National Women's Health Information Center: Back to School Can Mean A Return to Head Lice Worries
- Mayo Clinic: Head Lice: Lifestyle and Home Remedies