By Pavitra Sampath
Lice also known, colloquially, as head lice, is a common problem many children and some adults face. Very tiny and extremely irritating, lice can also cause a host of illnesses including anaemia. They can easily spread from one person to another, quickly infesting an entire family. So if your child has lice and you don’t want to use chemicals on his/her head here are 8 home remedies that can help you get rid of them for good.
1. Coconut oil with a pinch of camphor
This is a very easy and cheap remedy for head lice. The coconut oil literally smothers lice and camphor kills them due to its antiparasitic action. Another great benefit of this remedy is that nourishes your child’s hair — something that chemical shampoos do not offer.
How to use it: Take some coconut oil and add some crushed camphor to it. Mix this well and apply it liberally to the roots of the hair, concentrating on the scalp. Let it stay overnight and wash off the next morning. A good follow-up treatment to this is to rinse your child’s hair with camphor water intermittently to help kill off any remnant lice and their eggs.
2. Fenugreek seeds:
Also known as methi these seeds have very potent pesticidal, antibacterial and antifungal properties. This makes it a great way to keep lice at bay. You can use this form of treatment in conjunction with the coconut oil treatment.
How to use it: Soak a handful of fenugreek seeds overnight in some fresh water. Grind them to make a paste. Now, apply this paste to the scalp and allow it to stay for about 30 minutes. Wash the paste off and treat your child’s hair with camphor water as an added measure.
3. Garlic and lime juice:
Dr Girija Khanna, author of the book All about Herbal Remediessays that lice are extremely sensitive to strong smells, and this is where garlic works like a charm. Apart from garlic the lemon juice also has astringent properties that help kill adult lice and their eggs as well, therefore preventing the recurrence of the problem.
How to use it: Take a few pods of garlic (the amount you take will depend on the thickness of your child’s hair), crush them and add some lemon to it. You need to add enough lemon such that it becomes a paste. Now apply this on your child’s head, making sure you cover all the area of his/her scalp. Now cover your child’s head with a shower cap and allow the mixture to soak for 30-45 minutes. Next, wash off the mixture with a normal shampoo.
4. Custard apple seed powder:
The seeds of the delicious fruit sitaphal are also great home remedies for head lice. All you need to do is save the seeds of the fruit. The seeds when crushed contain components that kill off head lice almost instantly.
How to use it: Save the seeds of a custard apple. Dry them well and then crush them to make a powder. Now, make a paste and apply it on your child’s hair. You could even add some gram flower or besan to the mix to make a nourishing hair-pack.
5. Olive oil:
According to Joan Sawyer and Roberta MacPhee, authors of the book Head Lice to Dead Lice, olive oil is a perfect agent to help kill head lice. They say that the oil helps to suffocate lice and therefore kills them. While there have been a number of testimonials saying that this treatment works, it is found to kill only adult lice, and does not affect the eggs of the lice. This can lead to a recurrence of the infestation.
How to use it: Take some olive oil and apply it liberally on your child’s hair, concentrating on the scalp. Make your child wear a shower cap and leave the oil in overnight. The next morning wash off the oil and comb out the dead lice.
6. Neem oil :
Neem has a number of health benefits and is known as a potent antibacterial and antimicrobial agent. But, that’s not all. Neem can help kill lice too. Neemoil is easily available in Ayurvedic stores, but if you cannot find it, you can crush and use the juice of fresh leaves as well. For an added boost you can add a few leaves of tulsi too.
7. Almond paste and lemon:
A very popular home remedy for head lice, almonds and lemon act as a simple yet effective way to get rid of lice. The crushed almonds release almond oil that helps nourish the hair and suffocate the lice, while the lemon kills the eggs, making sure they do not recur.
How to use it: Take a few almonds depending on the thickness of your child’s hair. Crush them into a paste and add lemon juice to make a paste. Now apply this paste to your child’s scalp and leave it in for about two hours. You can then wash it off with your regular shampoo.
An easy home remedy for head lice, vinegar’s astringent quality helps kill lice and their eggs.
How to use it: Take some vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle. Now using a cotton ball (if you are using a vinegar from a bowl) apply it well to the entire scalp. Now cover his/her head with a shower cap and allow it to stay overnight. Wash his/her hair the next day with regular shampoo and comb out the dead lice.
Points to remember:
1. These are all home remedies and therefore it is essential that you repeat the process at least two times a week. In most cases you should see a difference in about three weeks.
2. Make sure you comb out your child’s hair when it is still wet, with a comb specially made to get rid of lice.
3. Please make sure your child is not allergic to any of the products mentioned above. You can do a patch test to check for this.
Disclaimer: These are only home remedies and should not be used instead of medical advice. Please visit a doctor if the symptoms of head lice persists.