Over the years, I have read many articles about how to kill lice. Fortunately, I never needed any of them. Until I did.
First, my daughter, who has hair to the middle of her back, started itching and squirming. Soon my husband and I followed suit.
No problem, I thought with bravado. I was prepared. I consulted my comprehensive stash of articles. They all seemed to suggest that the most toxic approach was best, so I marched to our local drugstore and bought enough over-the-counter anti-lice treatments for three people.
I meticulously followed the directions — shampooing, conditioning and combing — to no avail. Each week, I laundered all the bedding. We declared hats off limits. We showered like crazy. But after three rounds, I was exhausted, defeated and resentful.
Desperate, I called the doctor. He gave us an anti-bug drug. It was strong and had to be taken for several days at a specific time. I was optimistic. Surely modern medicine could make an impact. But when seven days were up, not a thing had changed.
Was it possible to be stuck with lice for the rest of your life? I didn’t want to find out. I launched my Internet browser, determined to get to the bottom of whatever I was missing.
It did not take long to discover that the products I had been using fell into the not-terribly-helpful category because lice can develop a resistance to them.
The answer to all my problems, online reviewers proclaimed, was shampoo and conditioner with natural ingredients like rosemary, tea tree and citronella oils so mild you could use the products year-round. I scoffed, but then I read more customer feedback. People were describing exactly the hell my family had been going through for almost a month, and they claimed a natural approach could save us. Just wash and condition hair daily and while conditioning run a no-tangle nit comb through the hair.
Well, these reviewers had clearly never contended with hair as long and thick as my daughter’s, I snorted. But as I kept reading, lo and behold, other moms with daughters with thick manes like mine swore this approach had worked for them.
I was cynical, skeptical, miserable, and just the tiniest bit hopeful, which helped me get through a couple more itchy days of waiting for my order to arrive. As soon as my daughter got home from school, I put her in the shower. I was still fairly convinced the products would never work and yet, we followed the instructions.
And what do you know? That nit-comb really did not snag, even in her thick curtain of sopping wet hair. I inspected my daughter’s hair afterward and found no nits.
Impossible, I thought, parting and peering. But the lice were gone and so were the nits that were driving me to fits.
I will never again doubt a natural solution to any problem. In fact, I solemnly swear to always try the natural approach first. I could have saved myself a bundle of money, frustration and tears.
Natural Ways to Combat Lice
Use a shampoo that contains one or more of these essential oils, or mix 15-20 drops of one essential oil (in order from most to least effective) with 2 oz. of olive oil, apply to scalp and leave on overnight. Test any new-to-you product on a small patch of skin first to check for allergic reactions. Comb hair with a nit comb after treatment.
- Tea tree
Author and freelance journalist Christina Katz’s articles, books, and video courses are popular all over North America, and occasionally around the world