A buggy situation
Well folks, the school year is about to start once again and as such parents have raised concerns about the lice issue. An estimated 6 to 12 million Americans, mostly children, are infected with head lice annually. Being a homeschooled provider for my grandson, I don’t worry too much about this issue, but others may not be so lucky.
The head louse is a wingless insect that spends its entire life on the scalp and feeds on human blood. Interestingly, only humans and certain members of the ape family are prone to these parasites. Head lice differ from body lice in that they tend to attach their eggs to the hair of the scalp rather than to clothing. These lice cannot fly and their stubby legs make them unable to jump, so they spend most of their four weeks of life in the same place.
Adult lice are extremely small, ranging in size from only 1 to 3 mm in length, and are generally gray in color. Their exact hue depends on their surroundings and will often appear to turn reddish after consuming human blood. The mouths of lice are specially adapted to pierce the skin and suck the blood of their victims. The time required for lice to complete their development is usually eight to nine days. I have no intention at this point to dwell on a biological discussion on lice at this point, but I do intend to go directly to their effects on the human host.
Head louse eggs attach to host hair shafts near the base. After the eggs hatch, the louse leaves the eggshell attached to the hair shaft. This empty shell will remain in the same place until physically removed by the host.
You have no doubt heard the term “nit” mentioned in reference to lice. This word indicates empty louse eggs or louse nymph. Generally, these are the visible eggs or the remnants of hatched eggs. Now that we’ve discussed the characteristics of these wretched creatures, let’s move on to how we can effectively rid the human body of their effects.
In home diaries there are many different methods used by mankind to get rid of these head lice, in addition to the usual pesticide methods. After doing some preliminary research, I found that using the Listerine store brand tends to work very well. The instructions say that it is applied to the head every night to interrupt the life cycle of the lice.
It is recommended that you saturate your head with Listerine using a spray bottle. After getting it wet, wrap your hair in an inexpensive shower cap to keep it in place. After several hours, wash off the Listerine in the shower and follow up with a cheap coconut conditioner like Suave and finally comb your hair. I mention coconut conditioner because lice don’t care about the smell. To remove the nits, you can use vinegar or mayonnaise to loosen their grip on the hair follicles. The point here is to kill them with Listerine and rinse them with vinegar.
Some people claim that you can also use products like baby oil, petroleum jelly, or VO-5 in the tube, essentially anything that is greasy or oily. Naturally, you will still have to comb out the nits.
A hairdresser owner once commented that since she would never use any kind of chemical treatment on a child, using mayonnaise is the best alternative. Make sure to use regular mayonnaise and not the light version. Applying mayonnaise to your hair before bed tends to achieve the same effect as chemicals. After applying, cover the hair with a plastic cap and the next morning proceed to wash, rinse and finally comb the nits. He goes on to explain that the mayonnaise technique does not kill the eggs but only suffocates the lice, hence the reason to continue the treatment for several days.
People have had some success in the past using olive oil to get rid of lice. Just soak your scalp in the oil and let it sit for an hour or so. This method has a beneficial side effect: it also tends to get you a good conditioning hair treatment. At the end of the hour wash and comb your hair.
You are now ready and armed with natural knowledge in case you find a case of head lice on yourself or your children. Good luck in this school year.
Copyright @ 2011 Joseph Parish