Head lice are small insect parasites that greatly enjoy human blood, and they view the head as an incubation facility. There are a number of ways to get rid of these creatures, ranging from chemical treatments to all natural varieties; depending on sensitivity and personal taste, you may want to integrate a combination of treatments. Be aware that combinations of chemicals are not recommended, as chemical lice treatments can be very harmful.
It is important to be vigilant about lice, and to report them immediately if they are spotted, especially in school-age children. Many people notice head lice because they experience a rash and itching on the head. Upon close inspection, eggs known as nits are revealed around the roots of the hair. Treatment involves both killing the adult lice and ensuring that the nits do not hatch. Since nits incubate for around a week, any successful treatment will last at least this long, with two week treatments being much more common.
Head lice are spread through close contact. As a general rule, it is an excellent idea to confine use of personal items to one person; if you have children, make sure that they do not share brushes, combs, hats, jackets, and similar items. Once lice are removed from the body, they die after around 24 hours. If you are experiencing an infestation, start by washing all bedding and garments in hot water, and vacuuming your home. Do this on a regular basis for two weeks while you treat the head of the patient.
Medicated lice shampoos contain insecticides that are designed to kill the lice and stop the nits from hatching. If the patient has allergies or sensitive skin, such shampoos should not be used. They are also not recommended for children under two, and they should be kept away from pets since some insecticides are highly toxic, and a small dosage could be fatal to household pets. If you choose to use a lice shampoo, follow the directions carefully, and combine it with regular combing, which some people believe is the most crucial element in lice removal. Do use more shampoo than is recommended, as this can be dangerous, and if you are combining medicated shampoo and natural treatments, start with the shampoo.
Use a very fine toothed comb to comb out the patient's hair at least two times a day. You may find it helpful to rinse the hair with vinegar first, as the water slows the lice down and the vinegar loosens the nits. Dump the combings onto a paper towel that can be burned or flushed afterwards. Even after a lice infestation appears to have cleared up, combing a few days a week is an excellent idea.
You can also try applying oil or petroleum jelly overnight. This will suffocate the adult head lice and condition the patient's hair to a silky shine. Several rinses with shampoo will be needed to remove the oil, and combing is still required. Some essential oils also help; try tea tree and eucalyptus oil, both of which are natural and mild insecticides.