How to Treat Lice Without Toxic Chemicals
Lice might just be every parent’s worse nightmare. Once your kids are school-aged you will understand: it seems every year you hear about the presence of these little critters lurking in your school. Here’s how to treat them using non-toxic alternatives
A common misconception is that you need strong chemicals to treat lice effectively. The idea of pouring chemicals meant to kill living things on our child’s head can be even more horrifying than the actual lice so, lucky for us, non-toxic lice treatments not only exist but they actually work better.
What we know about lice:
- Lice tend to be located on the head and neck and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft
- The eggs are really small and hard to see – they can be mistaken for dandruff
- You could have eggs (nits) in your hair and not know it since they don’t always cause itching
- Full grown lice can be about the size of a sesame seed and tan to grey in color. They need to feed on human blood to live and can survive up to 30 days in a person’s hair
- Lice move by crawling (fast!) but they cannot hop or fly. This means that for lice to spread there must be physical contact with infested hair, hats, pillows etc.
- Lice prefer clean hair – so don’t feel embarrassed moms, if your child gets lice it does not reflect on your family’s hygiene!
Importance of prevention
As a parent, your energy and focus would be well spent on helping your child avoid getting lice and bringing it home. Avoiding lice naturally has been shown to be quite effective and then, hopefully at least, you can avoid the headache of having to treat the entire family for lice.
Cutting hair very short or pulling long hair back into a bun or braids helps avoid infestations. Additionally, using true organic and pure essential oil’s have been shown to help prevent lice.
(You should always first test your children to make sure there are no sensitivities to the essential oils you are about to use. You can do this by placing one drop of the oil on the bottom of your child’s feet and see if they have a reaction. If nothing happens continue with your treatment!)
The essential oils that have been found to work well alone or (for stronger effect) together to avoid lice are: Arborvitae, Lavender, Patchouli, Basil, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus and Thyme and Tea Tree oils.
How to use Essential Oils to avoid getting lice:
- For a strong defense (i.e. When you know there is a lice outbreak in your classroom or school) make a mix of ten drops each in a bottle and shake. Oils should be UNDILUTED. Place 2 drops of your mixture on the top of the head every morning and night to help avoid infestation.
- Everyday spray: 20 drops of tea tree oil to 8-10 ounces of water in a glass spray bottle and liberally spray on dry hair down every morning before school.
Alternatively you can use more natural products such as the Little Green Lice Guard Set which is formulated using Tree Tree Oil.
The Little Green Lice Guard system is comprised of 3 non-toxic products that are clinically tested to help prevent head lice infestation.The Lice Guard Shampoo gently cleans the hair and effectively helps to repel head lice. The Lice Guard Detangler nourishes and smooths hair while effectively helps to repel head lice. The hair gel is perfect to create structured styles that “seal” the hair and make it difficult for lice to adhere to. All of the products in the Little Green Lice Guard collection are formulated with a proprietary blend of natural Tea Tree, Neem, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender, and Eucalyptus oils to help repel head lice.
Treating lice infestation:
Both prescription and over the counter products exist to treat lice in children. For the most part, they use pesticides to kill the lice. While effective, it is unnecessary to pour chemical pesticides on your young child’s scalp. There are better and safer ways to go about it.
Additionally, super lice (yes, this is a thing and its spreading in many states) are actually resistant to some of the most common pesticides used in treating lice. So, not only are these chemicals bad for your kids (exposures to the most common pesticides in lice treatments have been linked to lowered IQ, diminished attention span, other neuro developmental issues and childhood cancers) but they are not effective treating this new strain of lice.
Luckily, there are some 100% non-toxic options which are effective!
Comb through system:
The old fashioned, albeit time consuming, comb out process can be incredibly efficient at eliminating lice and nits without chemicals. Lice removal salons have opened across the country to make removal a bit easier on parents; they do the initial comb-through treatment for you (which can take up to 2 hours if you have long hair!) and a follow up visit, and parents just have to monitor and comb through at home to make sure nothing comes back. I think it is money well spent- especially because they will teach parents how to do the comb through at home, correctly, and is especially helpful if parents get lice too (yes, this is very common – especially for moms with long hair!).
What you need:
- Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb
- Conditioner, ideally with tea tree oil or other essential oils that repel lice
- A bowl of water
- Lots of patience: this is going to take a long time as you need to comb through very small sections of hair to thoroughly remove any eggs that might remain
How-to remove lice:
Please note, eliminating lice completely is not a one time deal. Maintenance is super important, at least for the first two weeks. The reason is that even after a thorough comb-through there could be a tiny amount of eggs still implanted, some so tiny you can’t see them. If these are not caught in subsequent comb-throughs during the maintenance phase, you could have a new cycle of lice!
I would recommend looking for a video online that showcases the ‘Shephard Method’ to remove lice, but the basic process is as follows;
- Wash hair with a non-toxic lice shampoo and conditioner. Generally, lice do not like tea tree oil, mint or eucalyptus so natural non-toxic conditioners with these essential oils should work.
- Leave some conditioner on and comb through (if it’s very knotty, first with a normal comb and then move on to the special lice comb) to eliminate any knots in the hair while in the shower. The Nit Free comb should glide smoothly through the hair.
- Have your child sit comfortably and start your comb through, combing through very small sections of the head and cleaning the comb in the bowl of water often so you can see if any eggs have been caught.
Once again, the key to this non-toxic process is patience and maintenance. I would run through this process at least once a day for a week.
Pure Dimethicone Gel/ LiceMD
- 100% dimethicone gel has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for children with lice. You will still need to conduct a thorough comb through after using this product: LiceMD Complete Kit with Comb and Gloves
If your child comes home with lice, you will have to make sure that any area in your home where your child has been is lice-free too. This means washing all sheets, pillows, stuffed animals, car seats, rugs that they might come into contact with. A hot water wash should be enough, alternatively sealing away anything that cannot be washed for 2 weeks will ensure that any potential lice dies off on its own. Finally, make sure to check siblings and parents for possible lice infestations.