​Natural ways to treat and prevent head lice

HEAD lice and nits can become a real problem in schools and other places where there are groups of children. Herbs and essential oils can be used effectively to control lice, and are far gentler to humans than many of the chemical concoctions normally used. These tiny, six-legged insects love living in human hair and are usually passed on from one person to another by direct contact. Sharing of brushes, hats, pillows, etc., will also spread them. Head lice aren't fussy about whose hair it is they're living in - all they want is a nice warm home to lay their eggs.

Lice will puncture the skin and suck blood, laying eggs called nits, which attach to the hair. Itching of the head is the first sign that someone may have lice and nits. It is important to thoroughly check your child's hair on a regular basis, looking close to the scalp. Combing essential oil of thyme through the hair with a fine tooth comb daily, until the problem clears up, is one natural remedy. Thyme is a powerful antiseptic which contains thymol and will effectively help in controlling nits.

An old-fashioned treatment that I found extremely effective when my son young was a hair rinse made of Quassia (pronounced Kwarsha) chips. Some chemists may still stock quassia chips. If not they can order them in for you, or some herbal suppliers, health food or specialty shops may be able to help. To make the rinse, boil 15 grams of quassia chips in two litres of water in an enamel or stainless steel pan for two hours, topping up the liquid if necessary. Strain and add one tablespoon of cider vinegar to every 300 millilitres of liquid. Apply the rinse by combing it through the hair with a very fine tooth comb. Repeat at two week intervals, three times. 

Another effective treatment is to apply a blend of the following essential oils: 25 drops each of rosemary oil and lavender oil, 15 drops of geranium oil and 12 drops of eucalyptus oil, thoroughly mixed with 75ml of almond oil. Divide the hair into small sections and saturate each section with the mixture down to the roots. Pile long hair on top of the head ensuring that every bit is oiled. Wrap plastic around the head and behind the ears to stop the oils from evaporating. With small children, be careful that they cannot move the plastic anywhere near their noses or mouths. Leave for two hours, then remove the plastic and wash the hair, rubbing the shampoo in well. Rinse thoroughly and comb through with a fine comb. Repeat three days later.  

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Treatment: One natural remedy for head lice is to comb essential oil of thyme through the hair with a fine tooth comb daily. Thyme is a powerful antiseptic containing thymol and is good at controlling nits.

Treatment: One natural remedy for head lice is to comb essential oil of thyme through the hair with a fine tooth comb daily. Thyme is a powerful antiseptic containing thymol and is good at controlling nits.