Head Lice Identification
Adults are 1/10 to 1/8 inches long with a tan/grey color (see picture). They are unable to fly or jump. They are able to crawl very quickly and can effectively spread on contact. Lice eggs (known as nits) are white when first laid and then turn a yellow/brown color before they are ready to hatch. Eggs are firmly glued to human hair about a half inch from the scalp. The strength of this glue is what makes removal very difficult.
Head lice are very hard to spot with the human eye. It is usually best to look for signs of eggs. The most common areas they can be found are behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. Debris from hatched eggs will be white. Check everyone in your family at least once a week during a known outbreak.
How to Get Rid of Lice Fast
Natural remedies are just as effective for getting rid of lice as commercial products (far superior in my opinion). Commercial products are simply tested and documented more often. This does not mean that they are better! Most chemical based shampoos and lice treatments have been scientifically proven to be only 50% effective. When you add the potential of neurological damage from the toxins, it is clearly better to go with a natural home remedy. Here is a PROVEN solution that will get rid of lice (and eggs) for good.
What you will need:
- Rubbing Alcohol (or olive oil can be also be used as an effective alternative)
- Hair Dryer
- Spray Bottle
- 100% Natural Therapeutic Grade Lavender Oil
- Nit Comb
Step 1: My Secret Lice Treatment Recipe (100% safe and natural)
Mix 20 drops of lavender oil with 4 ounces of alcohol. Please remember that all essential oils are NOT CREATED EQUAL. Every bottle comes in a different quality made in a different factory. Some are filled with impurities. Since you will be applying this to your head (or the head of your child) I highly recommend that you use this lavender oil. It is 100% natural therapeutic grade and it is a staple in the Marshal household.
- Add mixture to a spray bottle
- Liberally apply this solution to your hair and scalp at nighttime before bed.
- Leave in overnight.
- Proceed to step 2
(Optional) If you would prefer to purchase a pre-mixed product rather than make this recipe yourself, Nit Nanny Lice Solution Treatment (click here for more info) is a fantastic natural product that will get rid of lice just as quickly. The ingredients are slightly different but the magic is still the same!
Step 2: Supplemental Measures to Get Rid of Lice Naturally
Lice DON’T survive long once they are off of a human’s head (usually about 1-2 days). Likewise, eggs are unable to hatch without being in a specific temperature range. This will work in your favor. You won’t need to spend a lot of time or money on housecleaning. However, I do recommend that you follow these instructions to help avoid the infestation from spreading.
After the first lavender oil treatment, wash clothes, sheets, pillowcases and any other fabrics that the person has come into contact with in the past few days. Lice are effectively killed at a temperature of 110 degrees. Use hot water and dry on high heat. For items that cannot be washed, soak them in hot water or quarantine them in a plastic bag for 7 days (just to be safe). Either method will work to kill lice.
A little bit of vacuuming will help as well. You don’t need to go crazy. The risk of infestation from a louse that has fallen off someone’s head is very small. Putting a lot of effort into housecleaning is not necessary to avoid a re-infestation.
A nit comb is a fine-toothed comb designed for removing lice and eggs from your head. I highly recommend that you use a metal nit comb rather than a plastic one. If you need a recommendation, here is the one that I bought for my house (#1 best seller on Amazon).
What you will need:
- Nit comb
- An area with good lighting
- Hair clips (for long hair)
- Towel to place around shoulders
- Tissues or napkins
Here is what you need to do:
- Saturate the hair with conditioner or olive oil to keep it wet so combing will be easier. You can use a regular comb to de-tangle hair before you get started. Just remember to soak it in hot water for 10 minutes when you are finished.
- If you are getting rid of lice on a child’s head, it may be a good idea to provide them with some entertainment. An iPod or a book will make your job much easier.
- Separate hair into a width about the same as your nit comb. Separating the hair into smaller sections will allow you to see the lice and eggs better. Insert the comb at the scalp and pull it through the hair as many times as necessary to remove the lice eggs.
- Rinse and wipe the debris from the comb and move on to the next area.
- Soak your nit comb and any other materials used in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Dispose of tissues and wash towels and clothing.
Step 4: Almost Finished!
A special shampoo is not required for this lice treatment but if you would like to add an extra kick for removal and prevention, here is a great product I have used in the past. If not, your everyday shampoo will do just fine.
Shampoo your hair 2-3 times and then immediately use the hair dryer. Again, lice are killed at a temperature of 110 degrees. I DON’T recommend trying to reach 110 degrees on your scalp, but I have found that using high heat from a hair dryer (to a comfortable tolerance) will help to get rid of lice much faster.
- Use a shower cap while blow drying your head to keep the heat in without directly exposing your scalp to the high temperatures.
- If available, use a flat iron/hair straightener over the eggs. It won’t be effective at the scalp but it will help to get rid of lice and their eggs in your hair.
- Once the hair is dry, I like to inspect for stray nits again. If I see a few, I use a small pair of pointed scissors to individually remove those hairs. If you find a lot of stray nits, don’t go crazy trying to remove them all with scissors. The next treatment/combing will take care of them.
Step 5: Repeat
No matter what anyone tells you, getting rid of lice is NOT a one day process. I recommend that you treat your head for an additional 4-5 days after the first application. If you miss any, it won’t take long before you have another full-fledged infestation. It is in your best interest to get it right the first time around.
These insects have a 7-10 day reproductive cycle. Check your hair every few days for 2 weeks after your lice treatments are complete to make sure they are eliminated for good. Also, please remember that it is very common to itch up to a full week after getting rid of lice due to the bites on your scalp.
More Important Tips: Head Lice Prevention and Control
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Lice are mostly spread by head-to-head contact. However, they can also hitch a ride on shared hats, clothing and other items that lice have contaminated. This list will help you and your family to avoid having to get rid of lice in the first place:
- Avoid direct head-to-head contact during activities at school, camp, on the playground and when visiting friends.
- Never share hats, clothes or hair accessories
- Never share bath or swimming towels, combs or brushes either. If you need to get rid of head lice on an item, soak it in hot water (110+ degrees) for 10-15 minutes. If the item cannot be soaked in water, place it in a zip lock bag for 1 week.
- Stay away from beds, furniture, pillows and any other fabric in areas that may have recently been exposed to an infestation.
- As I mentioned before, head lice can only survive 1-2 days once they leave a human scalp. So, while scrubbing the house from top to bottom may make you feel like a pest control rock star, it won’t help get rid of a lice infestation.
- I never tried it but I have heard that rosemary is an effective louse repellent. Some people place it inside their pillow cases to keep them from spreading.
Interesting Facts about Lice!
- These insects are unable to fly or jump but they can crawl very fast.
- Infestations do not occur in pets or animals. They need human blood to survive.
- Some people are naturally immune to an infestation. Similar to mosquitos, they are only attracted to certain types of blood.
- The life span of a louse is only 30 days
- Their size ranges from a grain of sand to a piece of rice.
- Each mature louse (5-7 days old) can lay up to 10 eggs per day.
- It is estimated that there is up to 12 million cases of head lice each year around the world.
- A clean home and a clean head are just as susceptible to an infestation as unclean ones. Simply put, getting lice does not mean that you are dirty.
- Some parents and children that get lice do not itch at all.