Home Remedies For Lice! Do They Really Work?

Ever wondered what can be worse than your child not doing their homework, eating their food, or throwing a tantrum in the mall. Here’s a hint, head lice. It is every parent’s nightmare starting from finding a lice treatment to being confused about opting for home remedies for lice to what to do about your now seemingly infected child. Having lived through this ordeal with my daughter, I have a few nuggets to share. The first one being, breathe. Preferably deeply and slowly. 

Home remedies for lice - Girl with itchy scalp

Brace the fact that you are up for a battle against tiny bugs irritating your child’s scalp and threatening to spread in close contact. There could be many reasons for the itchy scalp but one of the most common reasons is head lice. They love scalps, live and produce eggs for long, and can be an irritable menace to get rid of. However, they are not invincible. When the right approach for their treatment is taken, either via  Home remedies for lice shared by mothers and grandmothers or using a medication, both have shown to be effective when followed rigorously. 

What are lice?

Head lice or Pediculus humanus capitis are ectoparasites that live exclusively only on humans. They suck the blood out of their host for nourishment and survival. Also, they live close to the warm temperature of human scalps to maintain their body temperature. They are usually found in children between 3 to 11 years and are highly contagious. They usually spread from one individual to another through close contact like sitting close by or sharing other objects like combs, caps, scarves, etc. On average, around 6 to 12 million people get it annually according to the Centre for Disease Control. 

The life span of lice starts at the egg stage called nits. Nits hatch in 7-10 days to become nymphs. The nymphs attach to scalps and this is when irritation and itching often appear in kids. Nymphs become mature adults in 9-12 days. The mature lice live on for three to four weeks and in the process, female lice produce eggs. Head lice treatments are usually effective against all stages of lice treatment. Combing, one of the most common home remedies for lice, is effective in removing nits as well, that usually remain on the scalp even after the adults die off. 

If you are still debating on the best lice treatment for your child, then get the tools right first. The foremost weapon in your battle against head lice is a comb. No matter which head lice treatment you opt for, a comb is a must. Pick a fine-toothed comb dedicated to brushing out eggs, larvae, and lice. Combs are crucial for head lice treatments regardless of the methodology you use. 

Do home remedies for lice actually work?

The first step to head lice treatment in most homes is usually opting for home remedies. One of the most well-known and trusted home remedies for lice is wet combing. This form of head lice treatment uses wet hair to single out the lice and remove them with a comb. Another strategy in the list of home remedies for lice is suffocating the lice using oils. The best way to do this is by oiling your child’s hair till saturation so that you can cut off the air supply of the lice. You may use regular hair oils like coconut, almond, or castor oil for this lice treatment. Lastly, essential oils are another chemical-free method to treat head lice treatment. The strength of essential oils shocks the lice into immobility and then using a comb to remove them during head lice treatment. 

It is important to note that these home remedies for lice have a longer treatment time. The processes of combing and oiling need to be repeated multiple times for your child to actually be lice-free. These lice treatments do not merely kill the lice, rather they remove nits and lice only. These processes also cannot prevent future infestations. This leaves a large window for your child to contract lice again. For long-term prevention against head lice, medicated treatment is the best and safe option for head lice treatment. 

Home remedies for lice - Mother combing her daughter's hair

Why or when to use head lice treatment medication?

While home remedies for lice treatment have proven to be effective, they can also be time-consuming and slow. As parents juggling work and home, finding the time to comb our own hair is a luxury, let alone doing it for your child multiple times during the day. Lice medication treatments in this way are a gift. They are fast, work meticulously and prevent further spreading. We can use them at any stage of the infestation. If there is scope for recurrent infestation then a medicated approach is your best form of prevention. 

Perlice, AAD recommended medicated anti-lice cream is effective up to 98%. Consisting of 1% Permethrin, Perlice is a lice treatment that works in a single application. It is a cream and is more gentle on children’s scalp, unlike other medications. It is this gentle feature of Perlice that makes it most suited for application on children. We can use this for low to mild infestations as well without any fear of side effects.

Follow the below-mentioned steps for optimal application

  1. Divide the scalp into sections using clips.
  2. Apply Perlice on your child’s towel dry hair from scalp to root.
  3. Let the cream sit for 10 minutes. 
  4. Rinse and comb the hair to remove dead lice and nits. 

You will be surprised at how efficient Perlice is, especially when you are out of time and stuck wondering how to remove lice eggs from hair.  It is safe to apply this to children above the age of 2 months. You can repeat the treatment after a week to prevent any future resurgence. 

Head lice treatments when done the traditional way can take time but that should not shun you from opting for home remedies for lice treatment. While headlice is highly transmissible in close contact, it is no reason for you to start deep cleaning or fumigating your entire hour. Outside the warm environment of a scalp, they can only survive for 24 hours. Instead, you can try regularly washing close contact objects like pillow covers, towels, combs etc. You may even tightly seal them in an airproof packet and leave it idle for 2 weeks. Not losing control over tiny bugs during head lice treatment was possibly the only suggestion that kept me going through this phase and winning the battle. 

Preventing future infestations :

Home remedies do not guarantee the removal of lice. There are always chances of re-infestation when not supervised. To prevent this, continue checking your child’s scalp repeatedly for two to three weeks since you started your head lice treatment. Medicated lice treatments on the other hand usually have a lasting effect and prevent future infestations successfully. 

The best way to prevent head lice is to ensure your child takes steps to not be in close contact with other children. While this may be easier said than done, you can always teach them to not share objects like combs, clips, scarves, etc. You can also teach them to not play or fix other children’s hair. As prevention and in order to not go through a lice treatment again, keep checking their scalp every 3-4 days. Schools and daycares are usually alert when it comes to lice outbreaks, so when they share a possible infestation warning, opt for home remedies for lice or a lice treatment. 

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