Head lice are tiny crawling bugs that live on the human head for up to 30 days and can lay 50-150 eggs. The eggs hatch in 5-10 days and mature into adults in 2 weeks. They cause intense itching and irritation, and can be difficult to get rid of.
School is headlice heaven...
Apparently, from what I can gather, head lice are as prevalent as the common cold in our modern school system. It's not about how dirty one is, the little vermin actually prefer a clean scalp as it lets them get to the blood more easily. They are spread with head to head contact and by sharing personal items like hairbrushes and hats. Lice cannot fly, hop or jump and usually stay on the body, but can attach to things like clothing or furniture, and transfer to your child from there. When not on a body, lice will die after 24 hours. If there's an infestation in your child's school, it will take the co-operation of everyone involved, (students, parents, teachers and administration), to fix the problem.
-Infected children need to be kept home until they have been treated for the lice and there are no more eggs visible on their hair.
-Parents need to be vigilant and inspect children's heads regularly, if they've never seen a louse or a nit, they will have to educate themselves on what to look for. (Lice are small, grayish or white,1/16-1/8 inches long shaped like a sesame seed or football. Nits are lice eggs and are tiny things stuck firmly to the hair shaft.) Being light colored, lice and eggs can be difficult to detect on blonde hair.
-Teachers can watch for scratching and irritability, both major signs of an infestation. School admins. can institute rules to avoid transference, like having the children place their outerwear in their backpacks, on their chairs, or in plastic laundry bags. A "no nit policy" will also help to avoid recontamination.
Pediculocides(chemical head lice treatments) are POISON!!! And they don't always work...
Chemicals commonly used in treatment of head lice, like permethrin, pyrethrum, piperyl butoxide and sometimes lindane or malathion, can cause serious problems in sensitive or allergic children and adults. The scalp is very permeous and will absorb directly into the bloodstream whatever is put on it. The bugs are also adapting and becoming resistant or immune to the chemicals, making these products completely useless at times. If you do choose to use them anyway, please get the MSDS(material safety data sheet) first and read it. A lot of info doesn't make it on to the label.
So, what can you do?
There are some natural products available at the health food store, drug store, grocery store or from the internet to treat lice. Being natural doesn't necessarily make them safe.
-Tea tree oil shampoo is a common treatment, along with the tea tree oil. It works great for some people, and for some others it causes an allergic reaction. Do a patch test first...
-Other essential oils can be used, including: eucalyptus, clove, lavender, rosemary, ylang-ylang, lemon, geranium and myrtle to name just a few. Some of these oils can burn the skin (or worse) if not properly diluted in a carrier oil. Please consult a trained aromatherapist or other natural health care provider before using any EO treatment...
-Neem oil is said to kill and repel the head lice, but it smells rather unpleasant.
-The olive oil method is the current most recommended natural way to go. It suffocates the little suckers. Saturate the hair and scalp with copious amounts of olive oil, wrap with plastic,(shower cap, bathing cap, or saran wrap), cover with a towel to catch any leaks and leave overnight or for 8-10 hours. Then shampoo hair, divide into sections and comb out the nits with a good metal nit comb. (I've heard of using petroleum jelly, and I'm sure it would work, if that's all you have, but good luck washing it out!)
-You can use mayonnaise instead, regular mayo, not lite or salad dressing, wrap the head and leave overnight or 8-10 hours like the olive oil. This will be much easier to wash out, makes the hair shiny, and the vinegar in the mayo is supposed to loosen the nits...
-Some folks have had brilliant success with the conditioner method, using loads of conditioner, and then combing for hours. This one is great for long haired children...
- A teaspoon of baking soda in a quart of water used as a final rinse makes the hair much easier to comb through.
- Shave off the hair. No hair = no head lice. Obviously not a valid choice for everyone...
- Heat from a hair dryer or a curling or flat iron is said to kill nits in longer hair, but can't be used on small children or for nits close to the scalp.USE EXTREME CAUTION WITH THIS METHOD.
-The best, and really the only way to completely get rid of them is to "Embrace your inner monkey" and comb and comb them out until they're gone. Keep checking for them every week or two, whether you know of an infestation or not. Early detection is the key.
-Homeopathic sulfur is said to repel head lice,(consult your local naturopathic Dr.)
Delousing the housing...
Sweep, vacuum, mop, wash clothing and bedding in hot water, and/or dry in the dryer on hot for 30 min. Things that can't be washed can be bagged and set aside for two weeks or so.
Home insecticidal sprays are unnecessary and can be toxic.
Pets don't get pediculosis, so they will not need to be treated.