Lice! This scourge of primary schools that plagues children every year and the problem is getting worse as these uninvented guests become more and more resistant to chemical products. Learn here how to use Essential Oils effectively against lice since they have shown they work and that they are used by many anti-lice shampoos.
Let’s begin with taking a picture of what lice are and their regular invasions.
Why are there still so many lice?
We wonder why some children get infested by lice as soon as they are out in the open or as soon as they return to school… Unfortunately, many repellents or treatment products against these parasites are not working and some are even harmful because they damage hair. Natural products too seem to be just as useless.
A louse: what is it?
- Lice are parasitic insects with a head and body but WITHOUT wings and 3 sets of legs. These legs have at their tip a pincer that allows them to talk a solid hold of hair, animal fur, fibres and clothing. They feed on blood and are very mobile: they can move as fast as 23 cm a minute on hair because of their 3 sets of legs.
- The life expectancy of a louse is between 4 and 6 weeks on a human body. However, as soon as the louse is far removed from its host, its life expectancy comes down to about 4 to 8 hours without food. In addition, a louse needs a temperature between 30 and 32 C and a humidity level of 70 to 80% to survive.
There are 3 morphological stages for a louse:
- The slow: it is the egg of a head louse. It is white or light yellow and of oval shape. It is rather hard to see especially in light-coloured hair and can be mistaken for dandruff. The slow needs about 5 to 10 days to mature.
- The eggs (baby lice): this stage lasts about 7 days and it takes on average 9 days to become a louse.
- The adult louse is brown and hard to detect in brown or black hair. It has a length of 1 to 2.5 mm (the female is larger than the male). The female can lay 200 to 300 eggs during her life and it lives on average 3 to 4 weeks, being able also to survive between 1 ½ to 2 days away from its milieu (hair).
How does one get contaminated?
It is a highly contagious infection that is transmitted from head to head particularly fast in children when they are together by direct contact or indirectly, especially in summer when they return to school.
Lice are not a sign of a lack of hygiene, on the contrary, because lice prefer a dry environment, fine, non-oily and clean.
Transmission of lice
The spreading of lice is enhanced by close contact between children and the quality of their hair (fine). It is particularly targeted therefore to children between the ages of 5 and 11.
Lice do not jump, do not fly (they have no wings…), do not swim very well but wet hair favours transmission which occurs more often at home than at school since children have closer physical contact with each other at home when they are playing with their friends or siblings.
They are therefore transmitted from head to head but also through the intermediary of some object that has been in contact with the scalp: hairbrush, comb, hat, soft toys.
Selfies and lice
The fashion of selfies could be favouring the transmission of lice. Indeed, when taking a selfie of several people together, they generally are very close together, especially at the level of the head to make sure everyone is in the photo. This is a sure recipe for passing on these little creatures.
Since lice are hard to detect with the naked eye, they can be detected through the symptoms they present. Indeed, when an infestation of lice occurs, strong itches become evident in general 2 to 6 weeks after contamination.
Conditions needed to successfully kill lice, slows and eggs
The important thing to remember to get rid of lice: the duration of the treatment. You cannot do with just one application of the lotion, the shampoo or the anti-lice mask.
You have to repeat it several times over several days, even if it is unpleasant… And also, it will be necessary to treat at the same time, all things that are suspect in the home (beds, sofas, sheets, hats, caps, etc…).
How should you choose the right essential oil against lice?
Several studies have been made of lice-infested heads to see if certain EO could kill the eggs and insects together. The results show that 1 to 2% of Tea Tree EO and Fine Lavender EO act successfully even on the eggs and up to 68.3% could be eliminated after just one application.
Recipes with essential oils against lice
- Apply 2 drops of this mixture on the neck and behind the ears.
- Or add 2.5 ml of VO and apply 4 drops of this mixture on the neck and behind the ears.
Usage: Children from the age of 6 onwards and pregnant women from the 2nd trimester onwards, without going over 21 days of treatment
- 2 drops Super Organic Lavender
- 5 ml of VO
- 2 drops Tea Tree
- 2 drops Camphor Rosemary
- Apply the mixture EO + VO on damp hair with a fine comb
- Leave the mixture for 2 hours with the hair enclosed in a towel
- Wash the hair with your regular shampoo
- Repeat the same recipe the following day
- And again, repeat this for 8 days to kill all the slows. This step is very important and must not be side-stepped!
Usage: Children from the age of 6 onwards, forbidden for pregnant women and people suffering from epilepsy.
Natural shampoo, treatment with essential oils against lice
For the shampoo, mix in a bottle:
- 1 dose of neutral body/hair wash (or 10 gr): carrier for cleansing the hair
- 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract: kills lice + preservation
- 5 drops of lemon essence: will improve the shampoo fragrance
For the treatment oil, mix in a bottle:
- Pour the preparation in the palm of your hand
- Massage the scalp thoroughly, insisting on the base of the ear and the neck where lice like to make their home.
- Resting time: Shampoo 20 to 30 minutes/oil: cover with a shower cap and leave all night.
- Rinse in tepid water
- Comb carefully with a lice-comb to remove all lice, slows and dead eggs.
- Repeat this every day for 10 days (number of days needed for eggs to hatch).
Usage: Children from the age of 8 onwards, forbidden for pregnant women and people suffering from epilepsy.
The action of your lice repellent oil:
These oils will asphyxiate the lice and kill them. They will infiltrate their respiratory system and smother them. They will also give your hair vitality, nourish it and make it shiny
Versatile EO, it is beneficial because of its calming and soothing action if the scalp is irritated. It will eliminate insects and parasites, making it therefore ideal in the fight against lice. It also stimulates hair growth.
Tea Tree EO
Interesting EO because lice abhor its odour. Excellent antiseptic oil, it will ensure that any lesions or bites become infected.
A study carried out in 2012 by scientists belonging to a variety of scientific bodies in Italy has shown that lice treated with Tea Tree EO in a 1% concentration resulted in a 100% mortality rate after 30 minutes. It was noted that their death was the result of an intestinal rupture. Unfortunately, the same result did not apply to the slows. Their death rate was only 50% after 4 days of observation.
For the environment
To hunt down lice in bedding, clothing, etc.
In a spray bottle of 100 ml, add:
Fill the container with water to the top
Spray on bed, sheets, pillows…
Conservation: maximum 1 week away from light and heat/
– The favoured places for lice to make their home is the neck and behind the ears: give these areas particular care when combing.
– Think of treating all areas where lice can hide.
– Wash bed sheets on a disinfection cycle if your washing machine has one, or key in a long programme at 90°C.
– Wash and dry all soft toys and place them in the freezer to eliminate all lice that could have made their nest inside them (none will survive 24 hours in a freezer).
– Avoid head to head contact
– Avoid sharing hats, caps, napkins… etc.
– Add a few drops of Tea Tree EO to your shampoo (once again: they don’t like the smell).
– For long hair, keep it plaited or in a ponytail.