The top two things I’ve dreaded dealing with as a parent are potty training and head lice.
Now, let’s talk about the dreaded head lice topic. Ugh! Ick! Ewe!
It only took my toddler two years of attending daycare to catch this. Can’t say I’m surprised or upset about this because as a typical two-year old, Little A loves to play and roll around with the other children at playtime. We have had conversations about personal space, but as most things, I’m sure this went in one of her ears and out the other.
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Is This Head Lice?
To be honest, at first when I saw those little specks in Little A’s hair, I wasn’t entirely convinced it was head lice or nits because they looked so much like little specks of dirt…and kids get dirty when they have been playing.
Nits ~ Another word for lice eggs, nits are generally sesame seed sized and shaped. On dark hair, nits may appear white in color. On light hair, these may appear dark in color.
You will find nits attached to the hair follicle about a quarter-inch or one centimeter from the scalp. They cling tightly, so if you try to pull it off with your fingernails, it will take a lot of effort to remove.
Head Lice ~ Four to Five millimeter’s in length, head lice are naturally translucent therefore, will appear white. Once they bite the scalp and ingest blood, they turn dark brown to black.
Lice are solid and very difficult to squash. If you see a bug, catch it to squeeze between your fingers. If nothing happens, that is certainly head lice.
Location ~ Lice like to lay eggs and hang out in warm areas on the head. Search the entire head, paying special attention to areas around the ears and neck. If hair is commonly worn in a ponytail, pay extra attention to that area, as well.
Bites and sores ~ As lice need blood from a living host to survive, they will bite the head leaving tiny sores. If the lice and nits are not promptly removed after infestation, the tiny sores will grow into large red sore scabs.
Contact ~ Lice are unable to jump more than a centimeter at a time, therefore, very close contact is needed for transition between hosts. This usually occurs when child are in contact with each other such as when playing, hanging jackets close to other jackets, sharing hair combs and brushes, and sharing pillows and bedding.
The host will likely feel a crawling sensation in the hair. At first sign of scratching, do a scalp check.
Gather the Ingredients
I have heard that smothering the hair in mayonnaise will kill off all the bugs. The thought of trying to get this out of my two-year old’s very long hair without her having a massive meltdown terrified me.
So off I went to my essential oil ~ natural remedy section of our kitchen.
Through trial and error, I have discovered coconut oil to be an amazing alternative to just about everything! As I use it on my hair every weekend to moisturize, I have a lot of it around my home.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
First off, tea tree essential oil is safe for children under the age of six. Second, tea tree essential oil’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties made this a perfect essential oil for lice treatment.
Lavender is safe for just about anyone AND seems to work for just about anything. Lavender essential oils benefits include being antimicrobial, antiseptic, soothes sores or skin inflammation, and so much more.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has gained in popularity over the past 15 years as a healing supplement. Many people have claimed the benefits of weight loss, dandruff clearing, sore throat soothing, detoxing, among other benefits from regular use of apple cider vinegar.
Warning! Apple cider vinegar will certainly give your skin a zing when put on an open wound or dry skin.
A nit comb has very narrow bristles to help comb out the little buggers. (Do yourself a favor get this! Saves so much time and frustration over using a traditional comb)
Create a Mixture
I mixed the essential oils in with the coconut oil. Since I was trying to kill off some notoriously difficult to kill bugs, I added quite a bit of essential oils.
- 30 Drops ~ Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 30 Drops ~ Lavender Essential Oil
- 2 Cups ~ Coconut Oil
- Mix all oils together well
- Test on inner elbow skin to double-check there is no reaction to the oils
Cover Head With the Mixture
Begin applying the mixture at the base of the hair follicles at the scalp. Work your way around the entire head this way. Once the scalp is covered, work the mixture through the hair strands until completely covered.
The first thing I noticed ~ any living bugs ~ I only saw three actual bugs during this ~ will try to escape this mixture. Grab those buggers and get rid of them right away!
Now comes the time-consuming part of lice clearing.
- A nit comb will work best, but if one is not available, you can use the fine tooth end of a regular comb. A regular comb will take much longer and more work to get all of the nits out.
- A towel to place around the shoulders to catch any strays that fall off during combing.
- A dish of apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- Gloves for hands (optional)
Place the towel around the child’s shoulders.
Separate hair into sections. You will comb through each section slowly.
Begin combing through immediately after applying the oil mixture to head. The lice eggs ~ nits ~ slide off the hair onto comb easily when full saturated with the oil mixture.
After each comb through, rinse the comb in the dish of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar should kill of anything that combs off on that comb.
You may choose to wear gloves as that vinegar can really start to sting your hands after just a couple of dips in the ACV.
After Comb Through
Once you feel that each section of the head has been combed and cleared, put rest of oil mixture onto hair and cover with a shower cap. You will want to sleep with this on to make sure all remaining head lice and nits suffocate overnight.
As this is an oil mixture, be prepared to shampoo the hair a couple of times to get the oil residue completely out.
Wash It All
Now, prepare yourself for the massive amounts of laundry to wash. All bedding, pillows, stuffed toys, and anything else that the child touches regularly and may house lice needs to be washed in hot water and dried on high heat, if possible.
I found a few things that could not be up in the washing machine, therefore; I created a mixture to spray on those items.
- Spray Bottle
- 2 tablespoons of rock salt ~ I used Himalayan salt
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 cups of water
- Mix together in spray bottle
- Spray on surface of toys not washing machine safe
Debugging is a long process no matter what method you choose to use. After spending almost 24 hours on the entire process and clean up, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, especially since my guesswork on the essential oils actually worked!
I have seen that drugstores, Walmart, Target, etc. sell mixtures to treat head lice and nits, but after becoming a mom, I try to use as few chemicals that I’m not knowledgeable about on my child.
I am truly thrilled that my all natural method worked using only one application. To date, there has not been a recurrence of head lice!
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