Lice Advice Featuring Lavender and Neem
There are few things that terrify parents of school age children more than news of a head lice (Pediculosis capitis) infestation in the classroom. Topical over-the-counter drugs such as permethrin have long been the insecticide of choice for lice. Unfortunately, their 20-day lifespan leads to many generations of exposure to nurture genetic mutations of these “nasty nits” and the emergence of drug-resistant species.
There are natural alternatives, with plenty of applications for organic essential oils such as neem and lavender for relief from lice infestation. Neem contains a complex compound called azadirachtin, which interrupts feeding behaviour of lice leading to their death, while biological activity of lavender effectively suffocates their respiratory system.
Careful examination of hair near the root and scalp should reveal sesame seed–sized lice that move, and yellowish-looking dandruff-like nits (eggs) if your child is indeed infected. Even if your child is lice-free, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your regular shampoo could prevent infestation and give your family some peace of mind.
In the event of an infestation, add several drops of both lavender and neem essential oil to an organic shampoo, lather up, massage thoroughly, and leave in hair for as long as you can (at least ten minutes). This prolonged exposure will kill adult lice and erode the sticky substance that allows the nits (eggs) to cling to the scalp and shafts of hair. Rinse, then add some conditioner. The next step requires careful examination with a fine-toothed comb, plenty of patience, and perhaps a feature film the two of you can enjoy together. The incubation period for lice is between seven and ten days, so even if your child is symptom-free, this process should be repeated regularly during this period.
Hang in there; your patience and persistence will prevail!