She glues her pale little eggs called nits onto human hair shafts and within 10 days they become a new generation of lice. They forage about twice a day on blood from the host’s scalp and excrete tell-tale black specks that appear under fingernails when you scratch. Head lice have a lifespan of 24-30 days and females lay up to 120 eggs each. You may already be itching whilst reading this! Itching comes from a reaction to their saliva, especially when they are biting. Scratching can cause infections or a rash, so rather resort to the following herbal tricks to relieve yourself and the whole family of pediculosis infestations.
Here is your DIY non- toxic home protocol:
Know your enemy:
Head lice cannot survive without a live host after 24 hours. Eggs hatch after a week, so eradicate everything straight away. The eggs are firmly stuck to human hair shafts. Water will not remove them but white vinegar with a few drops of essential oil certainly does. First you will need a special nit comb, a disposable shower cap and a non toxic herbal gel, oil or vinegar preparation.
Soak and comb:
Combine ½ teaspoon of any of these essential oils: rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, rose geranium, lemon, bergamot, peppermint or neem. Add this to 500ml of hot water and 100ml of white vinegar. Optional: you can add an extra teaspoon or two of olive oil, coconut oil or glycerine to facilitate combing; but then washing it out is more difficult.
2 Alternatively buy safe non toxic herbal products for treating nits and use as directed. (See advertisement for Natural Kids, Nature Fresh, etc.)
Now thoroughly soak the hair and scalp with your gel or mixture. Cover with damp paper towel and pop on the shower cap and wait for half an hour. Then start combing out the little critters! Clean the comb with paper towel soaked in white vinegar as you go.
All out, now wash the hair. Any shampoo will do, or use a special acid-pH anti-microbial one. To the final rinse, add a dash of vinegar to ensure that the scalp is not alkaline as this is what attracts them in the first place! The use of a hot hair drier ensures that any stragglers will shrivel up and die from the heat.
Grooming and ongoing control:
Use a special hair groomer, gel or pump spray on the hair. Natural products from the health shop contain essential oils to repel the lice. In an emergency mix a few drops of peppermint essence or any strong herbal oil to some water and 10% vinegar. Spray this onto anything you suspect could be contaminated. Use it daily if you hear that other kids have become infected. Wash pillow cases, towels, etc. Tumble dry. (Heat kills.) Toss in a sachet of herbs or a paper towel dabbed with some of these oils. Lice are spread by direct head to head contact or exposure to recently shared hair brushes, bathing caps, towels, headphones or pillows.