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Natural Remedies & Aromatherapy for Head Lice
The Buzz About Headlice
If you have school-aged children, chances are you'll have at least one run-in with head lice over the next few years, if you haven't already. Try these natural remedies to rid yourself of the lice themselves, as well as the eggs, without the harsh chemicals or added fillers of over-the-counter products.
A common household remedy for lice is to coat all your hair in petroleum jelly to suffocate the tiny organisms, and cover the head with a shower cap overnight. However, petroleum jelly is very difficult to get out of your hair after use, and may not successfully rid you of all the eggs, though it may make them easier to comb out.
An old wives' cure calls for a similar procedure with caster oil or mayonnaise, but leaving mayo on your head overnight is unwise, considering the risk of salmonella, and oil alone does not repel future infestations if your child is re-exposed the next day
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Instead, combine oil with aromatherapy to both kill existing lice, and prevent their return. Lice infestations sometimes run rampant in schools for weeks, or even months, so this daily rinse will keep your child safe, without having to miss out on any classes.
Add ten drops of each of the following essential oils to an empty two-ounce bottle:
- tea tree
Then, fill to the top with a carrier oil, such as apricot kernel, jojoba, almond, or even the olive, peanut or safflower oil that you cook with! Cap the bottle, place it between your palms, and roll back and forth between your hands for several minutes to combine. (It is a good idea to repeat this before every use.) To apply, add a few drops of this mixture to a cup of water. Rinse hair with this mixture every night, massaging into the scalp, to relieve itch, kill lice, and reduce your risk of future infestation.
Another effective tool for fighting lice is to prepare an infusion of bitterwood bark, and spray this on your child's hair every morning before school. Bitterwood (also known as Simaruba, Palo Amargo, Quassia Amer, or Quassia Amara) should be available by the pound at your local natural pharmacy or health food store, as well as online.
Bring two cups of water to the boil, remove from heat, and add a quarter of a cup of bitterwood bark chips. Let stand until cool, then strain out the bark and pour into a sprayer bottle, adding a quarter of a cup of witch hazel. Spray this "tea" through your child's hair and onto the scalp each morning to repel lice.
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Remember, lice can also live for up to 24 hours away from their host, so it is a good idea to wash all sheets and clothing the child has come in contact with, as well as placing pillows and stuffed animals in a plastic garbage bag and sealing it for a week to make sure your environment is louse-free.