It’s back to school season in Minnesota, and for many parents with young children, that means prepping for an annual scourge: head lice. But fear not—it’s easy to treat the little buggers without resorting to harsh pesticides and other chemicals.
Know Thy Enemy
Head lice is a common condition in school-aged children. The little insects pass easily from one head to another, especially if combs and hats are shared. Though a nuisance, head lice do not carry disease. Having a case of head lice does not mean the hygiene of your child or your house is subpar or compromised.
Head lice cannot survive for long once removed from your child’s head (they feed on blood), so they will not take up residence in your carpets or linens. Lice also do not lay eggs until they are 10 days old, so treatment over a week or so will effectively eradicate them.
Treating Head Lice Naturally
While it may be tempting to snatch every lice pesticide off the shelf of your favorite drug store, before resorting to harsh chemicals, consider this: A study has found that treating lice with tea tree oil killed the lice on the heads of nearly all subjects. Conventional pesticides? About 25 percent of subjects’ heads.
To treat head lice naturally, you’ll need the following:
- lice comb
- cotton balls or a spray bottle
- olive oil or rubbing alcohol
- tea tree essential oil
This treatment packs two punches: The combing removes the critters from your child’s scalp, and the tea tree oil is a natural pesticide that kills the lice. Just a few drops are enough to kill the lice. Pouring the whole bottle on your child’s head may cause skin irritation.
You have two options for applying the tea tree oil to your child’s scalp. You may make a mixture of 2 ounces of olive oil and 15 to 20 drops of tea tree oil and apply the mixture to your child’s scalp with cotton balls. Or, you could make a spray out of 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol and 15 to 20 drops of tea tree oil and coat your child’s hair with the spray.
Once you’ve applied the tea tree oil, cover your child’s head and leave the mixture in overnight. Then, using the lice comb, carefully comb through your child’s hair, removing head lice as you go. Comb through one small layer at a time, rinsing the comb under warm, running water after each pass.
After you’re done combing, wash your child’s hair with his or her usual shampoo, rinse, and repeat. Soak your lice comb in vinegar for 30 minutes to sanitize it. Or, you could boil the comb for 10 minutes. Wash any towels you used, too.
Repeat these steps once a day for a week or until you do not find any more head lice when you comb through your child’s hair with the lice comb.
Head lice are a nuisance, but they can be easily and naturally dispatched. Contact me for a recommendation for a high-quality tea tree oil.
Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!
Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance