Nearly every parent will have to deal with their child coming home from school or day care with lice. These little pests are incredibly contagious – but unfortunately, many of the over-the-counter anti-lice treatments are extremely dangerous and contain neurotoxins that kill off the lice – but also risk exposing children to dangerous chemicals. There are however some great ways to treat lice that are both safe and natural.
Carrier and Essential Oils for Lice
Carrier oils (like sesame, coconut, almond or olive oil) are great by themselves or in combination with the essential oils (tea tree, lavender, neem and peppermint oil) discussed below. Oil, due to its consistency, can smother lice and kill them off, but there are other properties at work here as well. These oils are discussed below.
Because of its thick consistency, a heavy application of coconut oil can smother lice and keep them from mating and laying eggs as well, making it a very effective treatment. It also provides deep moisturizing and soothes down itching and irritation.
Sesame seed oil has long been used by Asian women as an excellent hair tonic, but it is good not only for the general health of the hair but for lice specifically. It has natural insecticidal properties as well as being a strong anti-inflammatory agent. It can also be mixed with any of the essential oils
Almond or olive oil
Saturating the hair with coconut or olive oil is good because it will also smother the lice and make it easier for them to be removed, especially if a comb is used to help get them out of the hair. Be sure to leave the oil on for 15-20 minutes, comb out and rinse thoroughly. These oils will also help to moisturize and soothe any irritations of the scalp and any of the essential oils listed below can be added to help enhance the therapy.
Tea Tree Oil
This oil is a medicinal powerhouse: it has natural insecticidal properties to help kill off the lice, but its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits can also help reduce scalp irritation and promote skin healing even after the lice are removed.
Lavender oil also has natural insecticidal properties and can kill off and repel a variety of insects, including lice. In additional, it has a calming, soothing effect on itchy, irritated skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This can bring great relief when combined with any of the carrier oils mentioned above.
Most people think about neem oil – which is extracted from the Indian lilac – as a tool for organic gardening, where it is used to control insects and other pests. However, its insecticidal properties are also very effective against lice and adding this to a carrier oil and applying it to the hair and scalp will effectively help kill off lice, nits and eggs.
Peppermint oil does not have any insecticidal properties, but is still valuable for lice as the menthol in it is a natural analgesic and will help relieve the itching and/or pain on the scalp that can frequently accompany an infestation.