What are Head Lice?
(also called pediculosis) are small, parasitic, wingless insects that inhabit hair and scalp. Very often head lice are clearly visible near the ears, neckline and shoulders. Louse parasites bite the scalp and then feed on small amounts of blood. This causes persistent scratching and itching. They produce small eggs called nits which are as tiny as dandruff flakes. Nits reproduce rapidly once they hatch.
What Causes Head Lice?
Head lice are very contagious, and sharing personal belongings such as combs, brushes, towels, pillows or hats with others who have head lice puts you at risk. Head-to-head contact with someone who is infested with lice also makes you more susceptible.
Many people believe that if you have head lice you are dirty or unhygienic but this is simply not true! It can happen to anyone no matter how impeccable their personal hygiene is. Head lice typically affect children aged between 3 to 12 years of age and their families. If not treated immediately, head lice can cause skin irritation and infection.
Diagnosing Head Lice
The most common symptoms and signs of head lice include:
- Frequent itching and scratching of the hair
- Sores or small, red bumps on the scalp, neck and shoulders
- Nits (lice eggs) that appear as tiny, white, clear or oval-shaped dots (that sit at an angle) on the hair shaft
Help for Head Lice
The treatment of head lice involves a wide variety of over-the-counter or prescription products such as shampoos and lotions. These products are quite harsh as they contain pesticides and toxic chemicals. If you or your child suffers from asthma or allergies, or if you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before using these products.
Remember to also protect the eye area when using these products. A special comb is also used to comb through the hair one section at a time to remove the remaining lice or nits – this should be done every 3 days for about 2 weeks. If someone in your family has a lice or nit infestation, it is best to treat the whole family.
A more natural and safe option for eliminating and preventing lice is the use of herbal and aromatherapy ingredients. There are many plants in nature that manage to ward off insects and parasites naturally! Herbal ingredients such as Azadirachta indica (Neem), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) and Lavender act as natural insect repellents, and also have excellent antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Aromatherapeutic ingredients such as Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil) and Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Gerais ethat nium) have proven properties to ward off parasites and help the body to resist secondary infection.