Sunday, February 21, 2016

Treating Head Lice Naturally

Just a few days before school reopens, I noticed that both my elder girls have contracted head lice! Eww.... not again! It was my worst nightmare. They have got this before, which I suspected either from the school or their daycare, and that would always launched me into one of my cleaning sprees.

I used to buy head lice shampoo from the pharmacy, sourcing from those "kids-friendly" versions. Initially I started with Lice Clear from Guardian, which comes with a lice comb. Then when I discovered that Caring is selling something much more gentler for the kids, I switched to Delice. This comes with a metal lice comb plus a magnifier lens (although I don't find much use with the magnifier lens).

However, the procedure was very tedious and took so much of my time. Especially the wet-combing part. I dreaded it so much so sometimes I will bring them to a regular hair salon who are willing to do such treatment for them. Not all do willingly. The only downside is they use chemicals to kill the lice, and it will still take ages to comb out the nits.

So now you would understand why I got paranoid whenever I noticed them scratching their head. Worse is that it's not a one-time deal thing. We would need to repeat the combing and shampooing routine at least 2-3 times, wash all the bedsheets, towels, combs, etc. 

Until recently, I discovered that head lice can be cleared naturally with essential oil. So while waiting for my purchase from iHerbs to arrive, I went to Blu Scents near my area to get a bottle of Tea Tree Oil with Jojoba oil as the carrier to start with. Price from iHerbs is so much cheaper even after minus the shipping fees, and they are organics too. Only downside it it took ages to arrive. I couldn't wait 3-4 weeks as my 2-yo toddler had contracted the lice from her sisters too. And I was quite reluctant to use the lice shampoo on her.

During my googling on Essential Oils for Head Lice, I learnt a lot of things. Huh...didn't know it's a well-known remedy all along! There are a few sites which I find very informative, and after comparing info, I decided to go with Tea Tree Oil as the safest.  

Peppermint is safe to use at 6+ years but ALL eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils should be avoided until 10+ years of age.

Since I've purchased Tea Tree Oil from iHerbs, I wanted to try Neem when I went to enquire from Blu Scents, However, the sales lady told me that it's rather too strong for my 2-year-old, so she advise me to stick to Tea Tree Oil. Also I don't plan to get any carrier oil as I read that Olive oil or Coconut oil is good enough, which I have. But she explained that Jojoba oil is still advisable so that the scalp pores won't be blocked. Not sure if it's a sales gimmick or what because I've Olive oil that is suitable for hair. Anyway, I decided to comply. She offered to help me mix the Tea Tree Oil with the Jojoba Oil for my 2yo, and according to her, I shouldn't exceed 1 drop per 10ml of Jojoba Oil for a 2yo. I then asked her, if I want to use it for my 8yo and 11yo, can I add more drops of Tea Tree Oil to the Jojoba Oil later? She told me No, I could not. Once it's diluted, I can't add more in the future. And she went on to explain a lot of things that I should take note of, which I started to feel apprehensive as essential oil is really a No Play Play thing if we're not fully informed. So it's rather dangerous to start a home remedy with Essential Oil, no? 

Anyway, I went back and started applying the regime on my girls' head. For the 8yo and 11yo, I still applied the Delice shampoo on their hair and put on the shower cap for 10 minutes. After that only I combed their hair with the lice comb. Once the lice were removed, I shampooed their hair and apply Tea Tree Oil conditioner on it. Rinse with water and towel dry. While it's still damp, I massaged the diluted Tea Tree Oil on their hair again.

Where as for my 2yo, I just rubbed the diluted Tea Tree Oil on my palm before massaging her head with it. Only then, followed by lice combing, wash and towel dry her hair. Lastly, I repeated the massaging of her head with Tea Tree Oil while the hair was still damp, and this time I didn't rinse it off. I read somewhere that I had to repeat this process on Day 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21 to totally clear the whole cycle including the nits, etc. These treatment days have been carefully chosen to disrupt the life cycle of the louse and maximize the chances of eliminating all the lice. However, I couldn't do it for some of the days, so I adjusted the procedure by just lice-combing their hair instead of the running thru the whole process. After all, lice or nit combing is the key to eliminating them. Whether we use any pediculicide at all does not matter, as it's just to smother the lice so that they are easier to be combed out. I have even applied apple cider vinegar or even white vinegar on their hair but I still prefer essential oil, maybe the smel is nicer and I can comfortably leave it on their hair overnight. 

On Day 17, I still found some lice on my 8yo but over time, I noticed that they are all cleared. No more scratching and for a long long time, even my 8yo who used to have dandruff and the word 'itchy' could trigger her scratching reaction, I noticed that it no longer did. I'm so happy with the results and so every now and then, I would massage their scalp with Tea Tree Oil essential oil. 

I guess, that's why I find it worthwhile to share about it here. For those who have been facing this dilemma for ages, it's high time you explore this alternative. It certainly saves me a lot of trouble!

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