Hacks and Tips

Lice on the hair: The best way to deal with it.

Lice on the hair? Let’s talk about it. When you hear lice on hair what comes to mind? Bugs that live in people’s hair?

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If you thought so you are correct but how big do you think they are? What do lice on hair look like? They are very small bugs, in fact, the biggest adult louse is only about 0.3 cm.

What makes them annoying is that they don’t just live in one’s hair, they lay eggs hereby increase their numbers while living there. Urgh just writing about them makes my skin crawl but I will take one for the team and educate you on lice in hair and how to tackle it.

Introduction to Lice

Head lice are parasitic insects that live in human hair. They feed on blood from the human scalp and multiply. ‘Lice’ is the plural form of ‘Louse’. The head lice have three growth stages in summary.

The egg/nit stage,

The nymph stage (young louse)

The adult louse stage.

Lice in head lifecycle

The nits (baby lice) are easier to miss because they are smaller. They glue themselves into the hair strands, the nymphs and adult lice need to suck blood from the scalp or else they die. Itchy occurs as a result of sucking of blood. Head lice are most active at night, so if you feel a constant tingling in your hair at night you might want to check for lice. Lice infestation can be mostly found at the neckline or close to the ear. Lice also have colours similar to the hair they are infesting so they can be pretty hard to spot.

Symptoms of head lice infestation

  • Itchy scalp.
  • Irritability and sleep problems.
  • Sores on the head from scratching.
  • The sensation of something moving on the head.
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes.

Head lice Myths

These are the list of popular sayings that are not correct

  1. Head lice only occur in people that have dirty hair: This is false as head lice don’t care if the hair is clean or dirty. Neither does living in a clean environment better your chances of not having lice in your hair.
  2. People with afro-textured hair don’t get head lice: This is false, though the typical head lice find it difficult to survive on afro-textured hair because our hair has more curls which makes it difficult for lice to climb and hold on to. But the discovery has shown that lice have mutated to having more suited legs for climbing kinkier hair especially in areas where there are larger congestions of afro-textured folks like Africa and South America. Because people with afro-textured hair tend to apply natural oils to their hair to avoid or combat hair dryness which lice don’t like as some of these oils dehydrate them which would eventually kill them. If you ever needed a reason to use natural oils on your hair here is one.
  3. Head lice carry diseases: They are annoying yes but they don’t transmit diseases. They live and die on the human scalp.
  4. Lice can jump from one hair to another: Lice can’t jump and they are wingless so they can’t fly but they do crawl and if you share a bed with someone that has lice they can crawl from their hair to yours overnight and they can cover as much as 23cm in a minute.
  5. You can contact lice by sharing clothing with lice-infested people: The chance of you getting lice from clothing is low as lice need that warm environment and a quick source of food or they won’t survive. However, you are advised not to share items that might have come in contact with the hair of people suffering from lice infestation.
  6. How lice are transmitted: You can contact lice by head to head contact with a lice infestation and by sharing items that might have touch the infected persons head.

Lice on the hair Treatments

Using a nit comb to carefully get rid of all the nits in the hair:

This is the most effective of all the treatments as it removes the eggs and adult lice from the hair. If the eggs are not removed they will hatch over a few days and the lice infestation will begin again. It is best to have this done for you by someone else under a bright light so they can easily spot the lice or nits.

Pharmaceutical treatments:

Treatments such as anti-lice shampoo or over the counter lice treatments are a good method of treating lice but be sure to thoroughly follow the instructions given.

Using coconut oil

To treat lice with coconut oil, you need a shower cap, coconut oil in liquid form and a fine-tooth comb/nit comb.

  • Step 1: Rinse your hair with hot water and let it air dry.
  • Step 2: Massage your hair thoroughly with coconut oil, cover with a shower cap and leave for at least eight hours. (The point of this is to suffocate the lice)
  • Step 3: After eight hours, dead lice and nits should be removed from the hair diligently with a fine-tooth comb/nit comb. It is important to take your time to search for the dead lice and nits as an egg surviving can start the lice infestation process all over again. Please note that you may have to do this treatment more than once to successfully get rid of all the lice.

If after carrying out this treatment three or four times you still notice lice, please consider purchasing over the counter medicine or seeing a doctor.

You can also rinse your hair with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) before starting your coconut oil treatment. This is to increase your chances of killing the eggs.

Tea tree oil and lavender oil:

A mixture of tea tree and lavender oil has been proven to be very effective in treating lice infestation. Also, the treatment process is the same as coconut oil.

Anise oil or olive oil:

These oils are among the most effective for suffocating lice and killing them, thereby preventing them from coming back. Also, the method of application is the same as coconut oil.

Petroleum jelly: This is also a proven method of getting rid of lice. Method of application is the same as coconut oil. Use baby oil or mineral oil on hair to remove petroleum jelly and lice.

Warning: Please avoid using pesticides or insecticides on your hair, most of them are not safe and a health hazard to because you will end up inhaling it.

After treating lice soak all combs, towel and hair accessories used by infected persons in hot water for at least 15 minutes then thoroughly vacuum the environment including any furniture the infected person has come in contact with.

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