Head lice infestation (pediculosis), one of the most common contagious childhood diseases, is caused by barely visible insects found almost exclusively on the human scalp.
Contrary to popular belief, head lice infestation has little to do with personal hygiene. In fact, head lice are totally non-discriminating and can infest people of any lifestyle, age, race, or socio-economic status. However, it is a serious public health problem because some lice can carry organisms that cause other diseases, including relapsing fever.
Since forever, parents have run out to the nearest pharmacy to pick up the chemical laden lice shampoos to rid their precious children of those unwanted invaders. After all, every parent wants to get rid of lice fast. What these well-intentioned parents failed to realize is that the blood veins under their child’s scalp are very close to the surface of the skin and the scalp is extremely permeable to anything placed on it, absorbing up to 80%. Lice shampoos offer up a heavy dose of toxic chemicals all of which are known for causing some very serious side-effects.
Check out the most common chemicals used for lice treatment and their possible side effects.
- Pyrethrums And Pyrethroids: Pyrethrum comes from the chrysanthemum flower. Though naturally derived, pyrethrins are still pesticides which have recently been banned from agricultural use in food production. The concern is that pyrethrins can cause pneumonia, muscle paralysis, death due to respiratory failure, vomiting, and asthma. (But it is still a major component in head lice treatments such as NixTM). Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical counterparts (as contained in RIDTM) that have similar side effects.
- Permethrin: Permethrin is a broad-spectrum synthetic pyrethroid insecticide. As above, it also can cause vomiting, asthma and pneumonia, muscle paralysis and possible death due to respiratory failure.
- Carbaryl: Carbaryl is a pesticide that is often found in head lice treatments, the formulations of which vary widely in toxicity to the nervous and respiratory systems resulting in nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and excessive salivation. Other symptoms at high doses include blurring of vision, affects coordination, causes excessive sweating, and possible convulsions.
Now get this. Recent studies have shown that lice are actually becoming more and more resistant to the chemicals in traditional lice shampoos. They are turning into superbugs essentially. This is not an unusual phenomenon. More and more bacteria are mutating and becoming resistant to antibiotics due to overuse. Why wouldn’t lice do the same?
What is a parent to do when head lice strikes? Coconut oil for lice of course!
A 2009 clinical trial showed the superiority of coconut oil as a natural alternative to the conventional treatment from head lice and their eggs. The clinical trial, which was published in the European Journal of Pediatrics involved 100 participants and found that coconut-oil based spray was more effective than permethrin. Other studies have produced similar findings.
These studies indicated that coconut oil is likely to have a treatment success rate of around 90 per cent, which would make it a fantastic alternative to conventional insecticides like permethrin.
What makes coconut oil so effective in combating lice? The fatty content of the coconut oil, which persists on the hair and lice subsequent to washing, essentially suffocates the lice and makes it harder for them to maintain their grip on the hair. Score!
So just how do you use coconut oil for lice?
- Terminator Lice comb (this is the only good lice comb. It can be purchased online here)
- Two bath/swim towels you don’t mind the oil getting on
- Coconut oil (You can also use olive oil and put it in a squeeze bottle like this one)
- Regular comb/brush
- White paper towels that are damp
- Shower caps (very light, cheap ones like these)
The Comb Out Protocol
- Put one towel around the person’s shoulders and the other towel on the floor so oil doesn’t get on clothes or the floor.
- Apply coconut oil to dry hair and use the regular comb to get out tangles and to spread the oil throughout the hair. Make sure there are no dry areas.
- Start combing with the lice comb. Always maintain contact with the scalp. Comb around the head and keep swiping the comb on the wet paper towel to see if anything is coming out. The eggs will appear brownish on the wet paper towel.
- Keep combing in all different directions (underneath, sideways). Keep swiping the comb on the wet paper towel until nothing else is coming off the head.
- Have the person wash their hair with dish soap. Make sure they lather it up well to get out the oil. They may use conditioner too.
- Have person dry hair especially on the scalp area. It needs to be dry in order to re-check for eggs.
- Section the hair with clips and go thru the hair thoroughly to check for eggs that the comb may have not taken out. If you see one then just pull it out with your finger nails. If you’re seeing lots of eggs still then you didn’t spend enough time with the lice comb and will need to repeat that process.
After the initial comb out there are still microscopic eggs in the hair. Lice is a Process to eradicate because of the microscopic eggs.
After The Comb Out
Saturate head with olive oil each night before bedtime. Make sure there are no dry areas. Cover with a light shower cap. (Only for children over 8.) Place a towel across pillow to prevent staining. Oil must remain in the hair for 8 hours to be effective. Lice can hold their breath for 6 or more hours.
In the morning:
1. Comb out tangles with a regular comb/brush
2. Use the nit comb and spend 5-10 minutes combing through the hair (make sure you comb in all different directions). Keep combing until you get clean swipes on the wet paper towel.
3. Either wash out oil with dish soap or you can choose to leave the oil in the hair to save time and also deter getting lice again at school.
Continue this process as follows:
Week 1: Olive oil & combing every night.
Week 2: Olive oil & combing every other night.
Week 3: Olive oil & combing every other night.
After re-checking the entire head you will need to follow the protocol for three weeks to ensure complete eradication as you will still have microscopic eggs that still can’t be seen. Everyone in the household will need to be checked and follow the protocol to ensure all lice are gone. If there are others you are around on a regular basis they should also check for lice.
If someone has dandruff, it will not appear on the paper towel. Only eggs, bugs, and lint will appear.
If a family member does not have visible eggs, he/she should still sleep in the olive oil for the first two nights and use the lice comb in the morning. Bugs can live off the head for approximately 24-48 hours so the oil will suffocate the bugs if they should get onto your head. After the 48 hour period there will no longer be bugs in your home so nobody is contagious.
There is no need to clean or treat your environment when you follow this protocol. You should not see bugs after the first two days.
While you won’t get rid of lice overnight with this method, you will get rid of lice fast and for good. No more wondering how long does it take for lice to go away. In as little as 48 hours you and your family will no longer have to worry about a lice infestation! How’s that for results?