What are head lice?
Head lice are tiny pests that can infest the scalp and cause an itchy scalp. They are very common and spread easily from person to person. Head lice can be seen as small, white or grayish, oval-shaped insects, which feed on human blood from the scalp. They are usually found close to the scalp, behind the ears and around the neckline of the infected person.
Let’s look at the causes, treatments and prevention of head lice:
Causes of head lice
Head lice are tiny parasites that attach themselves to the base of hair follicles on a person’s scalp. They feed on human blood and cause intense itching, redness and social embarrassment.
The most common causes of head lice infestations are poor personal hygiene or coming in contact with someone who currently has an infestation. It is important to remember that head lice do not discriminate – it does not matter how clean or dirty you may be; anyone can get head lice. Likewise, anyone can pass them on to others without knowing it; therefore, all it takes is an accidental brush of the head against an infected person.
Head lice typically survive by attaching their eggs, known as nits, at the base of a hair follicle near the scalp and then feeding off the human host’s blood. On average, these pests live for about thirty days and unlike fleas or ticks generally will not jump from one person to another or travel quickly across distances greater than eight inches – which makes it essential for close physical contact to have taken place for an infestation to occur.
Symptoms of head lice
Head lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp and neck of a person, sucking their blood. They easily spread from one person to another, making it easy to catch them, as they prefer human blood. Head lice cause irritation and severe itching of the affected areas.
Symptoms of head lice usually appear on the scalp but may also be present on other body parts, especially eyebrows and eyelashes. Symptoms of head lice include:
- Intense itchiness and irritation around the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes;
- Tenderness or soreness in the area;
- Reddening or sores in the area due to scratching;
- Greyish white specks located at the base of hairs – these are actually eggs (called nits) that have been left behind by female head lice;
- Visible presence of crawling insects near the scalp or hairline.
Treatments for Head Lice
Head lice is a common problem for many households. Many parents are looking for safe and effective treatments that will get rid of the lice and prevent them from coming back.
One option that has been gaining in popularity is the use of coconut oil. This article will explore the effectiveness of coconut oil for treating head lice, as well as other available treatments.
One of the most common treatments for lice is over-the-counter (OTC) medications. These products usually contain ingredients that kill both the live lice and their eggs, or nits. Common active ingredients include permethrin and pyrethrins.
Other OTC products may be used as a supplement to, or in place of, traditional medications. Common ingredients are silicon dioxide particles, which smother the lice, aromatic oils such as coconut – which may repel lice – and dimethicone, a slippery substance that creates a barrier between the scalp and the lice so they cannot feed or lay eggs. Be sure to follow directions closely to ensure safety when using any of these OTC products.
One widely discussed natural lice treatment is the use of coconut oil. Coconut oil works as an insect repellent, and many parents have found success in using it to help rid their children’s hair of lice. Coconut oil needs to be used very liberally, and you may want to add essential oils to the mix for added protection. It is best applied in sections and allowed to sit on the scalp for at least 8 hours before rinsing.
Other natural remedies use food-grade products like vinegar, mayonnaise or olive oil. These treatments can be messy and have mixed results when attempting a head lice cure. However, they are good alternatives if a child has an allergy or sensitivity to chemicals or medications used in traditional lice treatments.
Using household items such as rubbing alcohol, hairspray and Vaseline can also be effective at eliminating head lice when used with combing out baby fine nits (louse eggs). You should apply these methods while wearing rubber gloves because it is dangerous to rub alcohol into open skin which can occur when using pins or needles during the nit removal process. These treatments can be effective but parents must understand that combing out nits is an important element for success with all of these methods.
Does Coconut Oil Work for Head Lice?
Coconut oil has recently become a popular home remedy for treating head lice. Many people have reported success when using it to get rid of lice, but is it actually effective? Let’s take a look at what the research says and explore the pros and cons of using coconut oil to treat head lice.
How to use coconut oil for head lice
Coconut oil is a natural remedy that is often used to treat head lice. The lice are attracted to the smell of the oil and the fatty acids in it suffocate the bugs, killing them in the process. There are several different methods for using coconut oil to treat head lice, and it typically takes about two weeks of applications before your child is fully lice-free.
To use coconut oil for head lice:
- Start by thoroughly wetting your child’s hair with warm water. This will help loosen any eggs or nits (lice eggs) attached to their scalp or hair shafts, making it easier for you to remove them later on.
- Apply a generous amount of coconut oil directly onto their scalp and massage it in until their entire head is covered. Make sure you separate each strand of hair during this process so that nothing is left untouched.
- Wrap their hair in a shower cap and leave on overnight (or for at least four hours). This ensures the coconut oil has enough time to penetrate deep into the scalp and suffocate any living larvae or eggs that were missed during initial application.
- The next morning, shampoo your child’s hair with a medicated anti-lice shampoo twice and rinse thoroughly with warm water until there is no remaining residue from the coconut oil left behind on their scalp or strands of hair.
- Comb through your child’s wet hair with a lice comb – paying particular attention to areas around ears, near neck base, temples, forehead and nape – removing any remaining nits as you go along (this should take an additional 10-20 minutes).
- Repeat steps 1 – 5 every three days for two weeks or until all symptoms have disappeared completely – always checking through in between applications using a magnifying glass to make sure there are no new signs of infestation anywhere on your child’s body/scalp/hair shafts etc..
By following these steps faithfully you can be confident that any annoying irritation from head lice will soon be gone!
Pros and cons of using coconut oil for head lice
Coconut oil is becoming an increasingly popular remedy for head lice, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of using this product. While coconut oil may offer a natural, non-toxic alternative to chemical treatments, its effectiveness in eliminating lice has not been scientifically confirmed.
Pros of Using Coconut Oil
- Some parents swear by coconut oil when it comes to treating head lice. The theory behind its efficacy is that coconut oil acts as a suffocant, blocking pore access and smothering the live lice and their eggs.
- When used in this way it can be particularly beneficial in mild infestations where live lice are present but no eggs are found.
- It is also purported to help release head lice from the hair shafts where they cling so they can be more easily removed manually with a nit comb or your fingers.
- Additionally, coconut oil’s natural antibacterial properties may help reduce symptoms such as itchiness and irritation that often result from a head-lice infestation.
Cons of Using Coconut Oil
- There are drawbacks associated with using coconut oil for treating head lice, namely its lack of proven effectiveness and potential toxicity if ingested by children.
- Allergic reactions may also occur due to the presence of allergenic oils contained in the product which can potentially cause respiratory problems and inflammation.
- And while applying this product before you shampoo might work well at killing live bugs on contact, if eggs remain viable after treatment then you may end up having to deal with another infestation shortly thereafter.
- Finally, some report experiencing clogged hair follicles after use due to accumulation of residue left behind by the product over time which may require more intense cleaning methods like deep steam extraction or extreme temperature change (hot vs cold) treatments.
Ultimately, much depends on your individual situation when considering whether or not to use a natural remedy such as coconut oil for head lice prevention or treatment; always consult your doctor prior to embarking on any form of home remedy regimen.
Other Home Remedies for Head Lice
Head lice can be an irritating problem, and dealing with them can be a challenge. While coconut oil is one natural remedy, there are many other home remedies that you can use to get rid of head lice.
These include using natural shampoos, essential oils, and vinegar. In this article, we will go over some of the other effective home remedies for head lice that you can try:
Essential oils can be used in various ways against head lice. These oils are obtained from plants and are ideal for home remedies because they are less damaging to hair than over-the-counter solutions. Lemon, lavender, tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary oils have been known to combat lice.
When using essential oils, it’s important to dilute the oil in carrier oil such as almond or jojoba before applying it to the scalp. This will help ensure that the oil does not cause skin irritation or any other reaction. To apply the essential oil, mix 1 part essential oil with 4 parts carrier oil and massage into the scalp until all areas of infestation have been treated. Allow the mixture to sit on the scalp for approximately 30 minutes then rinse with warm water. Be sure to repeat this process at least twice a week for best results.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy for head lice. Vinegar can suffocate the lice and kill eggs, making it a useful solution in cases of light infestations. However, it cannot penetrate a mature louse’s hard outer shell, so it may be less effective on more severe cases of head lice. It is best to treat any case of head lice immediately to ensure the infection does not spread.
To use apple cider vinegar as a treatment against head lice, put one cup of raw ACV in an applicator bottle and spray liberally onto dry hair. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water and a mild shampoo. Do not rinse out the ACV completely – leave some in the hair and scalp so that it can continue to suffocate the lice and eggs. Repeat every day for up to one week for best results.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an extract of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia and is becoming increasingly popular as a natural home remedy for head lice as it contains compounds known as terpenes, which act to disrupt the growth and maturation of lice eggs. Studies have indicated that when used in combination with a pesticide-based insecticide, tea tree oil can be effective in killing both adult biting lice and their eggs.
When choosing a tea tree oil product for use on head lice, it’s important to check the label carefully for safety information, including indications that the product has been tested and approved for use by adults only. Coconut oil is not recommended for head lice treatment because current evidence does not suggest it is effective against killing either adult or egg stages of the parasite.
Tea tree oil can also be added to shampoos or conditioners to create your own all-natural anti-lice formula. Different concentrations can be found on store shelves, but if you opt to make your own formula always dilute tea tree oil with another carrier before applying onto your scalp. Some other common carriers are sweet almond, olive or jojoba oils; you should use between 1% – 5% tea tree oil when creating any DIY blends. Finally, before using any natural remedy ensure you have personally tested them on a small area of skin first – just in case of any bad allergic reactions!
Prevention of Head Lice
Prevention is always the best cure when it comes to head lice. Taking preventive measures can help to reduce your risk of contracting head lice and save you from the hassle of dealing with an infestation. Prevention can include taking precautions when engaging in activities such as sharing hats, jackets, or other items that can transfer lice from one person to another.
There is some evidence that coconut oil may be helpful in preventing head lice. Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Regularly check for lice
Regularly inspecting your hair or that of loved ones is one of the best ways to keep head lice outbreaks under control. While it’s ideal to conduct a thorough check of your hair every two to three days, it is important to remember that it only takes minutes for an adult louse to travel from the scalp to a remote area on the head. For this reason, it is important to check your entire head (including behind ears and around the neck) for any suspicious signs such as small white flakes in or near the scalp or red bumps on the neck and shoulders which may indicate irritation due to lice bites.
It is also essential to look out for signs of physical presence such as live nits (lice eggs), live nymphs (immature lice) and adult head lice as they can be more easily removed if caught in time. To make sure you don’t miss anything, use a combination of:
- Gently parting sections of hair with fingertips
- Running a fine-toothed lice comb through locks
This will help detect any traces of infestation. If you find any evidence of an infestation, make sure to isolate any infected items by placing them in sealed plastic bags before treating them separately from non-infested items.
Use lice-repelling sprays
When trying to prevent head lice, it is important to use sprays specifically designed for warding off these small pests. These sprays are typically made from natural ingredients that are known to repel lice, such as neem oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil. The oils work by creating a defensive barrier around your head, making it less attractive to lice.
While coconut oil is known for its many health benefits, there is not yet enough research available to prove that it can effectively prevent head lice. However, some people report that adding a few drops of essential oils such as eucalyptus and tea tree oil mixed with coconut oil can help create a barrier to head lice. It is important to consult your doctor before trying any DIY treatments at home. If you do find yourself with an active infestation of head lice, please consult your doctor or medical provider regarding effective treatment options.
Wash hair and bedding regularly
Regularly washing the hair and bedding of those affected by head lice is an important part of prevention and management. Any material such as pillows, blankets or towels that could have been exposed to live lice should be machine washed with hot water (60°C) and a laundry detergent, then dried in a hot dryer. Washing the material with warm water will not kill any head lice on them.
It is also important to thoroughly wash combs and brushes used by people who have been infested with head lice. If hair accessories such as bows, clips or elastics were shared between members of the household, it is best to discard these items and buy new ones.
Soap, shampoo, conditioner and other regular household hygiene products are not effective treatments for head lice because they will never make contact with their primary habitat: the scalp.