It’s a horrifying experience for any parent. Lice. You’re probably itching right now just thinking about it. If you’ve ever experienced this milestone of parenthood, then congratulations for surviving. Now here’s the golden question, what did you use to rid your house of it? If you haven’t reached this gateway into parenthood, what would you use? Most likely, you’ll be told by a doctor to go to the pharmacy and get an over-the-counter remedy. Why are these so widely used? Because they’re effective, but only because they are toxic. And they’re now finding that lice are becoming resistant to these levels of toxicity, evolving to what is commonly called, “Super Lice”. So, if they’re toxic and losing effectiveness, shouldn’t there be a better and safer way to rid your house of lice? Doesn’t your family deserve the safety of natural lice treatments? We think so!
We’re here to give you the 411 on lice, from parents who’ve experienced it and from research we’ve done ourselves. So, buckle up and be prepared to be informed!
What Are Lice?
Lice are parasitic insects that feed off of human blood, much like mosquitoes and ticks. The big difference though is that lice don’t leave the body, they continue to inhabit the head, using hairs as a highway to speed around.  They can only live off of a host for 24-48 hours, with each hour diminishing their strength. A louse (singular for lice) is hatched from an egg (nit) 6-9 days after being laid, after 9-12 days it matures into an adult and becomes an egg laying louse. After that, they can lay about 8 eggs a day for 30 days, each taking 9-12 days to mature. So, do the math! That’s 240 eggs from one louse! Now those 240 lice lay 8 eggs a day for 30 days and…yuck! Now we’re all skeezed out! This is why it may seem like there are so many, because they multiply so fast!
Itchin’ Into Overdrive? Avoid Toxic Lice Products
Most parents, when they find out their child has brought home this unwanted gift, go straight into freak out mode and begin to vacuum, spray (often toxic chemicals!) and clean their home. They want to get rid of the lice! But the truth of the matter is, your child, or you, won’t catch it from a secondary surface (except those that have sat on the head, such as hats, pillows and bedding). But it only takes 30 seconds of head-to-head contact for it to spread from one host to another. So, for the love of lice, don’t share hats! And, it never hurts to actually clean those surfaces as well. Call it motivation to do a deep clean!
But, in your lice treatments, put down the toxic chemicals! In the past, parents have reached for pesticide treatments (that’s right, pesticide!) because it was recommended by the doctor. But studies have found that these lice treatments, “…have been linked to lowered IQ, diminished attention span, other neurodevelopmental issues and childhood cancers…” Stay away and try these three natural lice treatments instead:
Comb, comb, comb!
Do yourself a favor and get a good, metal comb. Have you ever heard of a nitpicker? Well, that’s going to be your job for the next couple of days. You’re going to comb and pick nits out of your child’s (or spouse’s) hair! There’s nothing that brings you closer together than picking parasitic insects off of each other. You’re going to want to be thorough with your combing, splitting the hair into sections. We like to do four sections (left, back, right and top). Clip the hair you are not combing through up. Take a pencil or pointy object and begin to separate the hair, row by row. Each row, you comb, from root to tip. Most of the lice will be at the root, because that’s where the food is, so make sure to get real close. Continue this until you don’t find any nits or lice.
Grandma always said natural lice treatments work best…
You can check out home remedies (such as apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, etc), but these will only work in conjunction with combing. Some tell you to wear a shower cap over the head. But warning, DO NOT leave the shower cap on overnight. It’s not safe to sleep with plastic on your head and could potentially cause suffocation.
Hit them with the non-toxic, effective stuff!
You can also invest in some good dimethicone oil. This oil is non-toxic and works because it effectively suffocates the lice. Bet you didn’t know, but on top of being speedy little critters, lice can hold their breath, and basically, hibernate, for 6 hours, long after anything you put on your child’s head dries up, and then they come up gasping for air. Dimethicone oil is great, non-toxic and will get rid of the lice. Best way to use is to follow the directions and then reapply after 7 days and then another 7 days. This way you get the lice that are alive and the nits that have hatched, before maturity. To be extra safe, you can do one more treatment in another 7 days. So, put down the pesticide treatment, and reach for some dimethicone oil instead. And have some on hand. We like to use www.keepclearlicedefense.com products, both for treatment and prevention.
If you’re waving the white flag…
Finally, if there is a true infestation, we recommend you find your closest lice center, and make an appointment. At these centers, you can book an appointment and they’ll use a hot air device that will kill the nits and lice, in a 30 or 60-minute treatment. The most popular in our area is Lice Centers of America, which uses the Air Allee system for treatment. It has a 99.2% success rate. Although a more expensive treatment (a treatment usually starts around $200), many have found that it is worth the peace of mind.
The lice are gone, now what? You need natural lice prevention
Now you’ve rid your house of lice, so what do you do next? Wait for the next onslaught? Well, you know we wouldn’t leave you like that! There are preventative things you can do to help deter lice from finding a residency in your home. After all, lice prevention is better than lice treatment.
Put hair up!
For children with long hair, put the hair up in a ponytail, or better yet a braid or a bun. Remember, lice spread best from head-to-head contact (30 seconds worth) and use hair as a superhighway to get around.
What do selfies and phones have to do with lice?
There has been an increase of older children getting lice. Why is this? Because pre-teens and teenagers are taking selfies or crowding around a cell phone, often exposing themselves to head-to-head contact. Educate your children to avoid head-to-head contact. You can still take a selfie and check out someone’s phone, but have some healthy space.
Keep your hair dirty!
The popular myth is that lice live in dirty places. Why is this a myth? Because lice actually prefer clean hair. It’s easier to get around. Now we’re not saying to never wash your hair, but you can give your hair a day or two in between washes. It will save you time and deter lice.
But when you do wash your hair…
Put a little bit of Tea Tree Oil in your shampoo. Check to see how much to put in your bottle (usually 10 drops to 8ozs of shampoo is sufficient).
Be On Lice Defense?
Keep Clear Lice Defense has natural lice treatments you can buy that are just as safe as remedies you wold make at home. They also make a convenient spray of lavender and tea tree oil, both a deterrent to lice! Or, you can make your own, check out the internet for recipes that usually consist of tea tree oil and lavender.
So, there is your, non-toxic, 411 on lice. Although they are a nuisance, terrifying and gross, the important thing to remember is they don’t carry diseases like other parasitic insects. So be informed about lice and stock up on the essentials, so that you’re ready to battle if they do decide to invade your home. You are armed with info about natural lice treatments and lice prevention. They won’t know what hit them!
Written by Dr. Dennis Ciccone