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Headlice

General characteristics

General characteristics

Headlice (latin name Pediculus capitis) are very small wingless parasitic insects that are a sucking class of louse, in the Phthirapta order of insects, that suck tiny amounts of blood from the scalp of humans. Unlike their close relatives the body louse (Pediculus corporis), headlice do not spread disease but are nevertheless highly contagious through close body contact.
There life cycle consists of 3 phases, the egg stage, nymph stage and adult stage. On arriving on a new head the adult will begin laying eggs, or 'nits' as they are commonly known, which she attaches firmly to the hair shaft near the root of the hair. She only needs to mate once in her lifetime. She will lay around 6 new eggs every day of her life which will hatch after a week or so.  The original adult continues to lay new eggs daily but will die at about a month old, by which time she could have laid up to 180 eggs. The newly hatched nymphs will shed their skin 3 times on their way to adulthood and be ready to reproduce themselves after about 2 weeks from hatching. The cycle then continues on and on until all eggs and lice are removed from the head.
The symptoms of headlice infestation include itching of the scalp and an itching on the skin of the neck and around the ears which is usually caused by irritation from louse droppings. If you thoroughly ruffle the hair over a dry bath then add a small amount of water, you may notice tiny flecks of blood. These are the droppings.
Not all people have itching but usually one can feel something moving around as numbers increase on the scalp.
Resolution can only really be achieved by thorough examination of the hair and scalp regularly (probably daily), removing all eggs and lice once detected. Eggs are tricky to remove even with a good comb and even harder to spot, looking like a tiny blob on the hair shaft. They appear more translucent when the nymph has hatched out and the cases are empty. Adult lice seem subdued after washing the hair and wet conditioned hair is easiest to work on.
Commercial preparations based on toxic insecticides will not kill all (if any) of the eggs so do not rely on them. Some lice build up complete resistance to even very strong preparations in a very short time, so using them makes the problem worse in the long run. I personally do not want insecticides on my children's heads anyway.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eating a balanced diet based on fresh whole foods will always help keep the body in a healthy state.

Consume fresh raw garlic every night, at least 1 clove. Either crush and add raw to a meal or put fresh garlic in an empty capsule if you can't stomach eating it raw. Headlice seem to hate it so it may well work as both prevention and cure.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Many essential oil like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, pine, cedarwood, geranium, sage, thyme and citronella will make lice flea from your head and help prevent further cases if used added to a shampoo or oil treatment once or twice a week. As a treatment add a few drops of 2 or3 of the oils to a carrier oil (Neem oil would be great as it is insecticidal too) and rub into the hair, leaving on as long as possible before washing the oil out. Tea tree and eucalyptus are especially effective.
Quassia bark chips brewed as a strong tea and used as a rinse will help rid and prevent headlice.
 
Make a tea using 2 teaspoon of crushed aniseed and use it as a regular hairwash to help prevent and rid the head of lice.

Natural healing

Natural healing

A really decent nit comb is essential so try this site for a comb that myself and many friends with children can personally vouch for.
Smother the scalp and hair with a good vegetable oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) cover with a shower cap or similar and leave on for several hours during the evening. This may wipe out or seriously weaken adult lice as it clogs their abdominal breathing holes. It also softens and de-tangles the hair, making a nit comb much easier to use.
Neem oil applied to the head regularly will act as a preventative against future infestations due to its safe, natural insecticidal properties.
Rinse the hair in cider vinegar every other day and massage it into the scalp. It also gives the hair a beautiful shine.
Some people swear by coating the hair with mayonnaise and leaving for a few hours before washing out.
Don't forget to pay attention to bedclothes, hats, brushes and combs if nothing is working and repeated infestations occur. Eggs or lice may be hiding out just waiting to come into contact with your hair again.

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