We all remember the time in our childhood when we would come back from school with a head full of lice and get non-stop scolding from our Moms! Well, gone are those days but it will take a long time for lice to get removed from the face of Earth!
Pediculus humanus capitis or Lice is a tiny parasitic insect which lives on our scalp/ body and feeds on our blood for survival. It is usually transferred from one person to another because of close contact. It can range from a length of 0.25 cm – 0.30 cm.
Types of Lice:
There are three kinds of lice. These lice live in different parts of the body. Here are the details of types of lice:
- Head Lice – They live on the human scalp
- Body Lice – They live on the body of humans and animals. They usually transfer from clothing and bedding.
- Pubic Lice – Pubic lice is also known as the crabs. They are found on the skin and hair of the pubic region. Pubic lice can also be found in eyebrows, chest hair, etc.
People who have good hygiene have lesser chances of having lice but still are prone to having it. If lice are not treated immediately, it might become a recurring condition.
The life cycle of Lice
A louse is developed from louse – egg, also known as a nit. A nit is yellow or brown in color. When the eggs have hatched, it becomes transparent. It sticks to the hair strand. Lice lay their eggs near the scalp so that a warm temperature is available for the nit to hatch.
The nit hatches in about 7-10 days to give rise to a six-legged, curve- clawed Nymph. In about 10 days, the Nymph develops into an adult louse.
An adult louse is grayish-brown in color. Adult female lice lay around 5 eggs every day. Their lifespan is of about 3 weeks. They die off in 15-48 hours when they’re taken out of the scalp.
Symptoms of Lice Infestation:
- Extreme itching.
- Tickling feeling in the scalp due to movement of the lice around the head.
- Increased dandruff and oil on the scalp.
- Increased hair fall.
- Tiny red bumps on scalp and hairline.
- The appearance of lice and lice eggs on the surface of the hair.
Prevention of Lice Infestation:
- Do not share personal towels and combs.
- Avoid head-to-head contact with colleagues and classmates.
- Avoid Sharing scarves, coats, hair accessories, etc
Also, Read Thyme: Benefits, Uses, and side effects
How to Get Rid of Lice
Regular shampooing, combing with fine-toothed combs, checking the hair and scalp frequently after anti-lice treatment, etc can help to remove lice. There are many anti-lice shampoos, lotions, and oil available in the market to get rid of lice. Ingredients whose presence play an important role in removing lice include:
- Pyrethrins – It is extracted from chrysanthemums. It is safe for children. It is capable of killing live louse but cannot get rid of lice-eggs. It is usually present in anti-lice lotions.
- Spinosad – It is a natural insecticide obtained from bacteria found in soil. It is also present in lotions used to treat lice. It may cause skin and eye irritation.
- Ivermectin – It is obtained from bacteria found in soil which is capable of paralyzing and killing lice and nits. It is safe to use for children older than 6 months. It has little to no side effects.
- Benzyl alcohol – It disrupts the normal respiration of louse but is incapable of killing lice-eggs.
- Malathion – It is an insecticide which kills lice as well as its eggs. It is flammable and causes burns and second-degree burns. Children below the age of 6 years are advised not to use Malathion.
- Lindane – It is found in shampoos. This neurotoxin kills lice and it’s eggs. But, it is suspected to be a human carcinogen. It can cause major side effects such as seizures as well as deaths.
Now, you know about the ingredients that can kill lice and their side effects. So, choose your shampoo, oil or lotion very wisely.
Home Remedies to get rid of Lice
If you don’t want to use chemical based products to get rid of lice, you can use some home remedies to kill the lice. These homemade remedies are easily available and cannot harm you or your baby.
1. Olive Oil:
Olive oil is found in every household. From cooking to moisturizing, olive oil has various uses. Olive oil is also a great way to get rid of lice! Olive oil suffocates and kills lice present in our hair. It damages the breathing of the lice. Moreover, the smooth texture of the oil prevents the lice-eggs from sticking to hair strands.
Olive oil should be applied and kept overnight with a shower cap over the hair as the malicious insect is capable of holding their breath for long hours.
Neem is the cure to all ailments. It is a power plant. It can be used in various ways. The power plant is capable of purifying the air, curing health problems, removing pimples and acne and, additionally, destroying lice.
Neem leaves can be boiled in water and this water can be used to rinse the hair. It not only kills lice but also helps in strengthening the hair and removing dandruff.
3. Essential Oils:
You can mix any of them in your regular oil and apply it on your hair at night. Leave it overnight. Comb your hairs with a fine comb and wash with any anti-lice shampoo at morning.
4. Anti-Lice Hair Pack:
Mixing Olive oil, coconut oil, egg, and honey together and creating a hair mask does wonders for the hairs health. Along with making the hair shiny, long and strong, it is capable of cleaning the scalp and removing lice and nits.
Putting mouthwash, such as Listerine, in the hair and letting it sit for 2-3 hours can kill lice as mouthwashes have Thymol and eucalyptus. Thymol and eucalyptus suffocate and kill these pests.
Put Vinegar on lice-infested hair and leave it on for 30-60 minutes. Vinegar not only makes the hair smooth and silky but also removes lice. The acetic acid present in vinegar helps in the detachment of the nit from the hair strand. So, it becomes easier to brush out lice and it’s eggs from the hair using a narrow toothed comb.
7. Benzoyl alcohol:
Directly applying Benzoyl alcohol solution to the hair and leaving it on for about 10 minutes also helps to get rid of lice. Benzyl alcohol is a pediculicide and kills lice by asphyxiating them.
8. Baking Soda:
Mix baking soda with conditioner to create a paste. Apply this paste to the hair and scalp. Baking soda relieves itchiness and this mixture disturbs the normal respiratory system of the organism, thereby, killing them.
9. Salt and Vinegar Mask:
Mix salt and vinegar together and apply it to the hair. Salt, being a natural antiseptic, kills adult lice and nits. Vinegar makes the hair smooth and slippery so that the insect can be removed easily.
10. Onion Juice:
Onion juice mixed with white vinegar can also help in getting rid of lice from the head. Apply this onion mixture on your scalp and keep it for at least an hour. After that wash your hair with a good shampoo.
These tricks can remove lice permanently for your hair:
- Continue the anti-lice treatment for 2-3 weeks.
- While shampooing, leave the shampoo on for 5-6 minutes.
- After every hair washes, comb with a narrow toothed comb.
- Shampoo every day or every alternate day.
- Oil your hair before shampooing every day.
- If you have long hair, put your hair in a bun or braid in public places.
Circumstances of Untreated Lice Infestation
If you ever get a lice infestation, don’t worry! There are lots of home remedies as well as ready-made solutions in the market. Although, it should not be ignored. If the infestation grows, it can cause serious damages to the skin and scalp. It can also cause some bacterial infections such as cellulitis which is caused by Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. It results in redness, swelling, tenderness etc. Untreated infestation can lead to impetigo as well. It creates rashes and blisters.
Read More, Home Made Hair Mask for Damage Hairs
At the end of the day, louse is an insect which is living in your body, feeding on your blood. It is important to remove this parasite from the body as soon as it is noticed. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Almost everyone has had lice in their life. Treatment should be done not only for your well being but also for the people surrounding you.
Feature Image Source