Lice are tiny wingless insects that live on the scalp and survive by sucking blood on the skin. A single insect is just as big as a sesame seed, while the eggs laid on the scalp are about the size of dried dandruff flake. The most obvious symptom of lice infestation is extreme itching of the scalp, the tingling sensation of insects crawling in your hair as well as painful sores that are the result of excessive scratching.
The easiest way to get lice is to share items of personal nature, especially those used on the head such as combs, hats and head scarves. More importantly, the lice can survive in inert places such as between seat crevices, towels and unused clothing. If you come into contact with the head of a person who is infected, you are also at risk of getting the lice. Due to the nature of this contagious infestation, school going kids are predisposed to getting lice. The diagnosis of this infestation is confirmed by taking a close look at the scalp to identify the lice or eggs laid at the root of the hair. The best way to do this is to use a comb to run through the hair in order to trap the lice.
Conventional medicine is available for the treatment of lice. This medication is effective, but often poses a challenge to young kids and those who are allergic to the constituent ingredients of the same. This is where natural remedies come in handy. Below are some of the remedies that you need to look out for when you need to get rid of lice with effective home treatment options. Note that for the remedies to be effective, you need to be consistent as it is extremely difficult to eliminate all the lice within a day or two, thanks to their ability to reproduce extremely fast. It also helps to combine each of the remedies with combing out to help get rid of as many lice as possible for each session.
1. Tea Tree Oil:
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of tea tree oil, 1 liter of natural shampoo, 5 teaspoons of olive oil (may be replaced with coconut oil), shower cap, comb and warm water to rinse.
Tea tree oil has excellent healing properties for a wide array of conditions affecting the scalp. When it comes to the treatment of lice infection, the oil’s potent insecticide properties help kill off the lice and reduce their reproduction by creating an extremely hostile environment to prevent survival. This remedy also requires you to use shampoo and a carrier oil of your choice.
It is very important to note that tea tree oil must NEVER be applied directly to the scalp as this could easily cause intense irritation, particularly if you have open sores as a result of severe itchiness. The carrier oils help soothe the scalp, thus providing relief from the irritation.
- Mix all the ingredients in a hair basin and stir to blend well.
- Section your hair and apply a generous amount of the tea tree oil mixture in the scalp.
- Wear the shower cap and let the effects set in for the next half hour.
- Rinse your hair severally after 30 minutes, making sure to eliminate all the grime.
- Comb your wet hair in order to eliminate all the dead lice.
- Use this remedy severally until you manage to treat the infestation completely.
2. Olive Oil:
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: Olive oil, shower cap, herbal shampoo (preferably that which contains tea tree oil) and hot water. Alternatively, you will need 1/2 cup of olive oil, an equivalent amount of natural conditioner, shampoo, hot water and a comb.
Olive oil has multiple benefits for the treatment of lice infestation. The first is that it kills the lice, effectively destroying their reproductive cycle and eliminating them in a short period of time. The second benefit is that the oil soothes the scalp, and helps to manage the characteristic itchiness that accompanies this condition. There are two ways in which you can use olive oil: the first is by applying the oil overnight and washing it the next day, while the second involves mixing the oil with conditioner before following through with your usual hair care routine.
- Section your hair first of you have hair, and proceed to apply a generous amount of the olive oil.
- Cover your head with a shower cap to seal the oil onto the scalp overnight.
- Take the shower cap off the next morning and then comb out to get rid of the dead lice and any destroyed eggs that may be present.
- Wash your hair using shampoo and rinse as you usually do.
- Mix equal amounts of the olive oil and the conditioner (1/2 cup each).
- Add adequate shampoo to the oil mixture and mix well.
- Apply the resulting mixture on the scalp and leave on for 30 minutes.
- Rinse your hair using the hot water to get rid of the lice.
- Apply the conditioner a second time and comb through to de-tangle while easing the process of lice elimination.
For both methods, use the remedy at least once weekly for fast relief from the discomfort as well as recovery from the lice infestation.
3. Raw Garlic:
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: 10 Cloves of fresh garlic, grinder, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, shower cap and hot water to rinse. You may opt to create garlic paste which you can add to your daily hair care routine.
Raw garlic is yet another versatile remedy for different conditions that affect the body. When used for the elimination of lice from the scalp, the garlic’s pungent smell, coupled with its remarkable healing properties ensure that the lice do not survive. Lemon juice is added to open up the skin pores and help get rid of clogging which ultimately increases the intense itching. Alternatively, make a thick paste using the garlic (when minced) and proceed to add it to your daily hair care routines as outlined below.
- Peel the garlic cloves and proceed to chop into small pieces.
- Transfer the chopped garlic to the grinder to get minced garlic.
- Add the lime juice to the crushed garlic and mix evenly.
- Apply the resulting mixture on the scalp, wear the shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes.
- Immediately after this, rinse your hair using the hot water.
- Alternatively, follow the following steps to make use of the garlic: Add the minced garlic to the shampoo and conditioner. Mix well and then apply a generous amount of the garlic mixture to your scalp.
- Let the mixture sit on the scalp for 30 minutes too.
- Carry on with your usual hair routine before rinsing with the hot water.
- Use this remedy every week for at least 2 months to effectively clear the lice.
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: A handful of fresh neem leaves, strainer and water. You may also use neem oil, in which case you will need a clean towel, shampoo and hot water to rinse.
Neem leaves have been used since time immemorial to treat conditions affecting the scalp and the skin. It does not come as a surprise therefore, that the leaves are effective in eliminating lice. The characteristic pungent smell that the leaves give off, alongside the herb’s healing properties kill the lice. This not only stops reproduction, but also prevents biting, in effect reducing the tendency to itch and scratch. you may either use the plant’s fresh leaves or settle for the use of neem oil as indicated below.
Using the Neem Leaves
- Sort the leaves before placing them in a pan and add water.
- Bring the mixture to boil for 10-15 minutes to effectively extract the herb’s active ingredients.
- Strain the mixture and discard the boiled leaves but retain the water.
- Use this water twice weekly to rinse your scalp and hair to effectively eliminate the lice.
Using Neem Oil
- Place some of the neem oil on the palms of your hands and smother your scalp with it.
- Leave the oil on the scalp for 20 minutes and then comb to get rid of the dead lice.
- Apply the neem oil a second time and leave overnight.
- Shampoo your scalp and hair the next day before following through with your usual hair routine.
- Use this remedy once daily for a fortnight to treat the infestation naturally and effectively.
5. Coconut Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of coconut oil, a shower cap, comb, hair shampoo and hot water. Anise essential oil (optional).
Coconut oil not only enriches the scalp, its lubricating properties makes it harder for the lice to move within the scalp (which is what causes the crawling sensation when one’s scalp is lice-infested). In effect, this stops the lice from laying eggs and increasing in number. Apple cider vinegar (abbreviated ACV) is added to this remedy because it is rich in acetic acid whose properties are known to kill the lice. For improved synergistic effects, add a drop or two of the anise oil to the coconut oil. Follow the procedure indicated below to use coconut oil in the natural treatment of lice.
- Rinse your scalp using ACV and then dry it completely.
- Add 2 drops of anise oil to the coconut oil and mix well.
- Apply a generous amount of the coconut-anise oil mixture and then cover using the shower cap.
- Leave the oil mixture on the scalp overnight.
- Use a fine-toothed comb to eliminate the dead lice before rinsing using shampoo.
- Use this remedy at least four times each week for best results.
Time Required: 25 Min
What You Need: Mayonnaise (full fat option), a shower cap, shampoo, comb and water.
Mayonnaise presents an interesting twist to this list of natural home remedies for the treatment of lice. The reason why it works so effectively is that it is rich in fats. The fats cause the mayonnaise to be extremely viscous, which effectively restricts their movement, in the end suffocating them with ease. When shopping for mayonnaise for this purpose, opt for the full fat option for best results.
- Part your hair into sections and then apply mayonnaise.
- Wear the shower cap to lock in the healing properties overnight.
- Shampoo and rinse your hair the next day.
- Lastly, comb your hair to remove the suffocated lice.
- Use this remedy daily until you notice that your scalp no longer has lice.
7. Baby Oil and Petroleum Jelly:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Baby oil or petroleum jelly, shower cap and comb.
The use of petroleum jelly and baby oil is attributed to the stifling nature of the two. This has the effect of restricting lice mobility while creating a difficult environment for multiplication. The petroleum jelly is first applied and left overnight and then baby oil is used the next morning. The latter is done to dislodge the petroleum jelly as well as remove the dead lice.
- Apply a generous amount of the petroleum jelly on your scalp, making sure that you leave a thick layer on.
- Cover the scalp with a shower cap and leave overnight.
- Apply baby oil the next day for the aformentioned reasons.
- You will then comb the hair to remove the grime and dead lice.
- Use this remedy at least thrice weekly for quick recovery.
Other remedies that you may use include rubbing alcohol (also referred to as Isopropyl alcohol) which effectively destroys the lice population, antiseptic mouth wash whose alcohol content kills the lice as well as orange juice. The latter works as an effective insecticide which also has the advantage of destroying the lice and allowing for the easy removal of eggs from the scalp. Egg yolk, best known for its ability to tame frizzy hair, is also an excellent option in the treatment of lice. The golden rule to using these remedies is patience and consistency. If need be, seek the opinion of your doctor and figure out how to add these natural remedies to your prescribed medication.
In addition to the remedies listed above, there are also Lifestyle changes and habits that you can use to get rid of lice. These include:
i) Wash clothes and items of personal nature in hot water to destroy the lice. While at it, clean all hair accessories such as hats, headbands, combs and brushes.
ii) Avoid sharing the items of personal nature mentioned in the first tip above.
iii) Shampoo your hair regularly to keep lice infestation at bay.
iv) Lastly, avoid coming into contact with other people’s heads particularly in public spaces where you do not know who is affected and who is not. It may also help to hold your hair in a pony tail.