Head lice is an uncomfortable and distressing condition. Though it commonly affects school-aged children, lice can also affect adults, as it’s relatively easy to transfer. Because lice reproduce quickly to create infestations, it’s possible to get rid of lice by stopping their life cycle.
If you or your child has developed an infestation, there are some easy at home remedies to try so you can get rid of lice.
Lice is a condition that affects the human scalp. Also known as head lice, the condition happens when tiny insects called lice, live on the human scalp and feed off blood. When an infestation of head lice breaks out, it’s called pediculosis capitis. While the scalp is most commonly affected, there are other types of lice infestations, including body lice and pubic lice.1
It’s a common misconception that head lice happen because of a lack of personal hygiene. This isn’t true—though it is true for body and pubic lice, which occur due to uncleanliness. Head lice can affect even the cleanest kids and adults. According to the CDC, head lice affects primarily children between the ages of 3 and 11 and there are up to 12 million cases of lice infestations annually in the United States.1,2
Lice are small, gray or tan colored insects that thrive on blood from the human scalp. Female lice produce a sticky substance, which is used to secure her eggs to the roots of hair strands. Once the eggs hatch, they produce nymphs, which are young lice that eventually grow into adult lice. The entire life cycle can take 6-7 weeks.1
Once lice mature to adults they can easily be transmitted by direct contact. This is why lice infestations often pass between school aged children who have close, direct contact. Shared hats, scarves, hair brushes and pillows can also transmit lice between people.1,2
If you suspect you or your child may have lice, here are some symptoms to look for:
- Intense scalp itchiness
- Feeling your hair move or a tickling sensation
- Developing red bumps on scalp, neck and shoulders
- Difficulty sleeping when lice are most active at night
- Finding adult lice or their eggs throughout the scalp
Top Natural Remedies for Lice
Getting rid of lice requires consistent treatment over the course of several days to ensure that you’ve eliminated them entirely. It’s also important to continue lice treatments for several days after you’ve removed the lice to prevent an outbreak from recurring.
The following are some natural ways to get rid of lice:
White Vinegar and Water - Combining white vinegar and water together and coating the scalp and hair strands can help unstick lice from the scalp, which can then be combed out.
Lemon Juice - Applying lemon juice to the scalp and hair can make it easier to unstick lice from the scalp so you can comb them out.
California Poppy Root - With natural antimicrobial benefits, California poppy root can help kill lice and end their life cycle.
Mayonnaise - Soaking the hair in mayonnaise and leaving it in overnight can help to kill lice, which can then be removed in the morning.
Eucalyptus Oil - Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic benefits which may help to repel lice.