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Archive for July, 2011

Oh, the fear that arises when that little louse nit is discovered!  But before you rush out and purchase some over-the-counter chemical de-lousing treatments, consider a more effective, non-toxic approach.

The first time my children got lice, I panicked and used a drug store treatment, but it didn’t even kill the lice completely. After research, experience, checking in with other parents, I came up with this coconut oil treatment process which worked much better – and with no toxins. It definitely kills the lice.  NOTHING really kills the nits completely (and if you think of it, do you really want to put something that strong on your head??!). No matter what process you use, to get rid of nits, you have to pick them out, one by one, by one, by one, by ……

This is what the nits look like – but note this is an enlarged photo, so they are actually smaller.

Tiny eggs on the hair look like flakes of dandruff.  However, instead of flaking off the scalp, they seem to be glued on the hair shaft, and difficult to remove.

Head lice can live up to 30 days on a human. Their eggs can live for more than 2 weeks.

THE TREATMENT
What you will need:
Shower caps with strong elastic
Neem oil (this can be purchased at most health food stores). If you cannot find it, then use more essential oils.
Tea tree oil (a lot, about 2 tsp per head)
Essential oils (lavendar, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, citronella – pick 2-3)
Rat tail comb

You’ll need one shower cap per head – the dollar store is a good resource. I have washed mine out after a treatment, when I ran out. Be careful to rinse well if you do that. Make sure the elastic is good, as you do not want the oil mixture dripping all over.

Gently heat the coconut oil in a saucepan, so it is softened enough to mix the Neem and the essential oils into – depending on the hair length, you could use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut oil per head.  Take the saucepan off the heat.  Add in the Neem, a LOT of tea tree oil (at least 2 tsp per head).  Then add in your selection of essential oils. Citronella can be irritating, check and see your / your child’s reaction to it.

You want the mix to be STRONG SMELLING! Saturate the hair with the oil mix. Put on a shower cap (make sure it has good elastic, you don’t want it dripping all over). Hang out for a few hours and let the mixture do its work. Some people sleep overnight with this. I personally do not- it is way too messy and not necessary. The lice are dead, dead, dead after a few hours and then your job – nitpicking – starts.

Nitpicking
When you take off the cap, you will see some dead lice. (see enlarged photo) Now – and this is why they call it nit-picking – you have to pick out each and every nit in the head. You cannot count on any treatment – natural or chemical – to kill the nits, it will only kill the lice.  You want to be attentive and thorough here – one nit/ egg can become one louse which can quickly lay lots of eggs pretty soon.

I use a rat-tail comb- the kind with the comb and a long handle, shaped like a stick – which makes it easier to part the hair.  In a pinch, I have used a pointy-edged chopstick.  Check EVERY PART of the head. If you see a nit (the size of grain of sugar sometimes), then slide it out with your thumb and first finger, like you’re squeezing the one strand of hair. Keep an eye out for the lice themselves – and kill them quickly. It helps to have a dampened paper towel nearby to rub the nit off your fingers and then a bowl of water to dip your hands in so the nit(s) are not still sticking to your fingers. It is best to cut your nails short and definitely pull your hair back from your face.

Best to do the checking and nitpicking in bright light, even going outdoors.  This takes time and patience and good close-up vision. Grab a patient teenager if you can. (Is that an oxymoron?!) Keep checking every day, even twice a day – chances are you will miss a nit or two and you don’t want them hatching. I would check for two weeks at least, which is the lifespan of the eggs.

Make sure you check everyone’s head in your family. Consider doing the treatment on family members as well. It won’t hurt and it’s a nice conditioner for the hair. An added benefit – coconut oil makes a great make-up remover as well! It’s also a nice moisturizer ! 🙂 🙂

In addition, you want to clean all bed clothes, shirts, hats, etc. Pack stuffed animals and pillows you cannot wash in plastic bags and store them away for a few weeks. Vacuum and wash surfaces that have been touched by their heads – you could mix tea tree oil and water and spray that on as well. Remember the car – and spray and vacuum there as well.

The most important thing is to pick the nits, pick the nits, pick the nits ….. I know this may sound ridiculous (but aren’t lice themselves ridiculous? and on human heads??) but if you just relax and be meditative with the tedium of nitpicking, it is not so bad. When I did it and felt rushed or annoyed, thinking that I have so many other things to do and I’m sitting here picking out insects from my child’s hair …. it just made it so much more difficult, for me, for my child, for  getting all the nits out.

So …. Relax, focus, breathe, check …..
GOOD LUCK!! (Check, check and re-check)

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