Once upon a time, a long time ago, my brother returned from a trip to London with more than his back pack. The uninvited visitors were keen to get to know the whole family. When word broke ‘your brother has brought home nits’, I think I cried for most of the day, silently petrified, what on earth would happen if the pony got the head lice too (I was about 10)! How would I possibly use that tiny comb on his wiry main and tail not to mention his thick winter coat! Horses, dogs and cats do not fall pray to human head lice.
Every year when school term begins I receive lots of requests for recipes using essential oils to treat the pesky critters. Many parents wish to avoid using commercial preparations with harsh chemicals. If the scalp is itchy & sensitive try using a genuinely natural shampoo, health stores stock a wide range.
Unfortunately head lice continue to raise their heads throughout the school year but using the oil combo below in a convenient spray can help to keep re-infestations at bay.
ESSENTIAL OIL RECIPE
100ml Lavender Water
50 drops of Tea Tree
50 drops of Lavender
50 drops of Geranium
50 drops of Eucalyptus
This gives a 4% dilution (For children, make the above blend @ 2% strength which is half the above quantities (25 drops of each oil) or for sensitive skin types and younger children half again (12 drops of each oil) for a 1% strength)
NB There are a wide variety of dropper insert types available. Different Essential Oil Companies use different types, which produce different drops of different sizes. Atlantic Aromatics supply oils with a dropper that give a relatively small drop and one which is easy to control, allowing more accurate dispensing when following recipes.
Shake the mix thoroughly (each time you use it) to help dilute the essential oils and spray the top of the head generously, avoiding the eyes, massage the head lightly and then the rest of the hair. Follow by combing (normal comb) the oils through the hair. Leave this in for 2-3 hours or overnight if possible. Shampoo the hair and using a fine comb, to remove the lice and eggs, comb the hair thoroughly, this is very important. Best done with head bent over white paper on a table, this allows you to kill any live ones!
Repeat the treatment every 48 hours. Four treatments ‘should’ get rid of an infestation. N.B. In school, children will be treated at different times so to help prevent re-infestation use the spray once a week as directed above until the class is ‘lice free’. Also, regularly spray on hoods, hats, scarves etc.
- The life cycle of the louse is about 4 weeks. Approximately 8 days are spent in the egg stage, which is the hardest stage to kill. The eggs then hatch into tiny lice (first instar nymphs), then into second and third instars and finally into adults. Female lice are larger than males.
- Lice eggs are opaque. If they are clear, it means the lice have already hatched out.
- They can hatch on hair that is attached or unattached to the head so avoid sharing hats and brushes etc
- Healthy lice and eggs are found only within 1 cm of the scalp.
- Head lice are not a sign of bad hygiene.
Note: You can also use tap water instead of Lavender Water but remember to shake very well to disperse oils. If so you will need 1 empty 100ml bottle and 1 atomiser, avialable from healthfood shops. (The oils disperse a little better in the Lavender Water)
Some recipes recommend diluting the essential oils in vegetable oil and applying to the hair and head. This is fine, the head may need to be covered if leaving in overnight to avoid staining pillows etc. The vegetable oil will require a thorough shampoo to remove fully.
DISCLAIMER every person, their skin and every situation is different. The details supplied here are for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for trying out essential oil recipes and applications. It is suggested if irritation occurs following essential oil applications to discontinue use. If you are on medication or suffering from a medical condition seek professional advice prior to using essential oils to treat a specific ailment.