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 Integrative Medicine: What Every Parent Should Know About Controlling Head Lice 
 
Michael Morton Alan PhD ©

Herbal Recipe, this home-made treatment can be made in the privacy of your own kitchen by combining 2 ounces of vegetable oil, 20 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of the following essential oils: rosemary, lavender, and lemon. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends this combination suggesting, "Do a skin test on the inside of the elbow first, and wait several hours to make sure the strong oils don't irritate the skin. Leave the mixture on the infected head under a towel for an hour, then shampoo. You'll probably have to repeat this at least once to get rid of the next batch of hatched lice."

How to Tell If Your Child is Infested
The following symptoms will be present if your child is infested with head lice:

  • Excessive head scratching
  • Sores on the scalp from lice
  • Red or black gritty fecal specks on collars, back or pillows
  • Adult lice in hair, eyebrows or eye lashes
  • Nits attached to the hair.

If your child does have head lice, don't panic. It's inaccurate to assume that head lice like dirty heads--in fact, there is evidence that lice actually prefer clean hair. And contrary to popular belief, children of the rich are just as likely to have head lice as children of the poor. The presence of head lice does not indicate poor hygiene. Unfortunately, routine bathing and shampooing will neither prevent nor eliminate head lice problems.

People become infested by head lice when they have had direct contact with an infested person, or used brushes, combs, hats, scarves, coats, bedding, towels, or upholstered furniture which are infested. In addition, since only humans can be infested with head lice, you can't get them from pets or wildlife.

What To Do If Your Child Has Head Lice
When you discover the presence of head lice, the best way to control them is to not only clean with solutions that are lethal to lice and safe for you and your child, but to do some manual nit-picking. According to parasitologist and lice expert Dr. Robert Dalgleish, "the manual or mechanical removal of lice and nits from the hair is crucial no matter what treatment regimen is chosen." Here are some suggestions:

Tips for the Successful Treatment of Head Lice

  • Place towel under hair so that a portion of the towel is exposed beneath the end of the hair.
  • After applying olive oil or coconut oil solution/shampoo to the scalp and hair for the length of time required, slot a metal lice comb at the roots of a lock of hair at a 45 degree angle with the curved side of the teeth toward the head. (Note: Plastic lice combs are ineffective.)
  • Comb through each section of hair until you have combed the entire head. You should make at least thirty strokes during this process.
  • Any lice will be pushed onto the back of the comb, get caught between the teeth or fall on the towel. Check the comb after each stroke and remove any lice or nits with hot water and a toothbrush.
  • Use fingernails or tweezers to remove any nits missed by the comb or use safety scissors to snip out individual nit-bearing hairs.
  • Repeat the procedure as needed.

Note: Lice are easier to see off the head rather than in the hair. Lice eggs or nits are glued firmly to the hair strands, often near the roots. If you see white particles near hair but not attached, they are probably dandruff --not nits. White eggs are empty shells. Live eggs are difficult to see without good lighting.

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