That embarrassing scourge of elementary schools everywhere, head lice are becoming more and more resistant to chemical means of getting rid of them. The expense of buying all the products can be a real financial hit, once you add in washing all your clothes in bleach, spraying the bedding and carpet with special spray and treating your child twice with a toxic remedy purchased from the drug store.
Not only is it expensive, chemically toxic and time-consuming, but there may come a day when the remedy for getting rid of lice is not as close as your nearest pharmacy.
I learned the hard way about how to get rid of head lice when a plague of them swept through my daughter’s school. It was so bad that the school began performing twice-weekly head checks and sending children home with a note that they could not return until their heads were inspected and found to be free of lice and nits. Seven year old girls being seven year old girls, with the hugging and hat sharing and whispering, it wasn’t long before my youngest was sent home with head lice.
I dutifully went out and purchased the toxic chemicals from my pharmacy and proceeded to treat my daughter and my house as per the directions….fast forward to the emergency room where the quickly washed-off chemical had caused a horrible burning rash and allergic reaction on her delicate scalp.
Coconut Oil Method:
It was then that I learned about more natural alternatives of ridding a head of lice. One being, coconut oil. Coating the head in a thick coat of coconut oil will suffocate the lice and kill them. An added benefit of this method is it naturally conditions and softens your hair in the process. Simply, add a generous amount of coconut oil to dry hair and place a plastic bag or shower cap over hair and allow it to penetrate hair for 30-45 minutes. Wash hair well to remove oils.
The Wet Comb Method:
Once you have used the coconut oil to kill the lice, then you must pick the dead lice and remove the eggs from the hair. The wet-combing method of removing head lice is one of the best methods to use for this process. It is virtually These are excellent tools to add to your home first aid kit, and even your bug-out bag in case you end up in a shelter with others.free of cost, completely free of chemicals and can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime (assuming you have access to water). The one tool I’d recommend purchasing is a lice comb with wavy, tightly-placed metal teeth (called a cootie comb at our house).
You can wet comb with just water, but if you have conditioner, the process goes a little faster and is more effective. Coating the hair with Vaseline is another remedy you can use to remove lice. Either using condition or Vaseline makes the hair slippery so that the louse and eggs cannot hold onto the hair. Make sure the person being combed has something to entertain/distract them – this process can be very time-consuming – up to 2 hours for the initial combing. You will gain an entirely new appreciation for the word “nitpicker”.
Gather your supplies:
- lice comb
- conditioner or vaseline
- wide-toothed comb
- bowl of hot water
- hair clips
- infested head
- We generally start with a clean head – this is optional but a bit more pleasant, if you can call picking little parasitic bugs off of a person’s scalp “pleasant”.
- Apply conditioner or Vaseline heavily to hair and comb it through with a regular wide toothed comb.
- Part the hair off into manageable sections and pin out of your way using the hair clips
- Take the first section of hair. Using the lice comb, separate an even smaller section of the hair. Place the teeth of the comb as close to the scalp as possible and pull it through the tiny strand of hair.
- Examine the comb – there may be live lice or nits on the comb. After each pass through the hair, you need to wipe it with a tissue and rinse it in the hot water. Lice move slowly, so you can use the same tissue for numerous passes of the comb. Flushing the tissues is the best way to dispose of the lice.
- Go through the person’s head, mini-section by mini-section, combing, wiping and rinsing.
- Sometimes you will see a bug that the comb missed – use your tweezers to grab it and put it in the tissue to be disposed of.
- After completing a section, use a hair clip to clip it out of the way and move on to the next section.
- The most common places for lice to congregate are the nape of the neck and behind the ears – pay special attention when you are combing there.
- Once you have finished combing all the sections take out the clips and run through the entire head of hair with the lice comb, wiping and rinsing after each pass.
- Have the person wash his or her hair to remove the conditioner.
- Quickly go over the head again with the comb – if you find more than a couple of nits or bugs, you need to start the entire process over and resection and comb the entire head thoroughly again.
You will need to repeat this process once or twice per day for the next 10 days. It takes a louse egg 10 days to hatch and if you miss one, since they breed quickly, you could be starting at square one again.
After the initial combing, the subsequent combings generally only take a fraction of the time. In the modern world, we are lucky enough to be able to run our linens through a sanitizing cycle in the washing machine and throw our kids’ stuffed animals in the deep freeze to get rid of head lice.
In an off-grid world, the key to getting rid of lice in your home is to know what lice need to live.
Things that are lethal to lice:
- Being deprived of a host for more than 4 days
- Temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit sustained for more than 20 minutes
- Temperatures that are below freezing for more than 24 hours
- Boiling water (in the case of brushes and combs, etc.)
- Lack of oxygen for more than 24 hours (sealing things in plastic)
- Lice are passed from person to person, not animal to person to animal
Some health departments recommend the use of products like Lysol on household upholstery, while other health departments suggest that Lysol-type sprays are ineffective on lice.
Dealing with head lice is a lot of work. Help to prevent the transmission of head lice by teaching your kids to:
- Avoid head to head contact
- Avoid sharing hats, hair barrettes or scarves
- Put mousse or gel in her hair every single day and top it with hairspray. Lice hate that stuff and stay away.
- Add tea tree oil to shampoos and conditioners. Again, they dislike the smell.
- Make a spray bottle of tea tree oil and water and use this on your brushes and combs
- Keep hair in braids (best) or ponytails (second best)
Keep hair covered with a bandana, hat or scarf, especially if they or a family member has lice.