What is Head Lice?
Also known as pediculosis capitis, this wingless insect lives on human head. These insects are not so dangerous since these do not spread diseases but creates itchy scalp and irritation on the head. It lives in three different stages: nits, nymphs, adults.
Nits – These are lice eggs and look like tiny yellow or brown dots before they hatch. It appears very close to the scalp since they need perfect temperature. Nits look like dandruff and you cannot remove them easily by combing, brushing or by shaking them off.
Nymphs – The nit hatches into a baby louse called nymph. Nymphs are smaller and greyish, white or tan and it comes to an adult stage in 7 days after hatching.
Adult – Adult louse has six legs and is greyish white in colour, sometimes looks darker. Female louse are bigger than the male.
Why lice appears more among Children:
While head lice is a trouble maker to all stages of people, children of the age 4 to 15 years are the most affected.
Head lice cannot jump or fly but it spreads faster among children, since children love to have close physical contact with each other and they may share their clothes, combs, brushes, hats, ribbons, hair bands and so on.
Lice bites create irritation and scratching which in turn leads to skin breakdown and in bacterial infection.
Treating Head Lice through Neem oil
In Sanskrit, Neem is called Arishtha which means “the reliever of diseases”. It is seen throughout India and in a few other Asian countries. Each part of a neem tree are used in medicine. It cures many major diseases like chickenpox, malaria, headache, fever and various skin diseases.
Research has also been done on the effect of neem in the treatment of diseases like HIV, cancer, diabetes, duodental ulcers, fungal infection, kidney disorders and to cure skin allergies.
Neem and its products are a part of ayurvedic medicine for more than two million years. Neem has two varieties – Malai vembu & Nila vembu. Both are good to treat fever.
Preparation of Neem Oil
- Collect grown seeds from the tree and dry it in sun
- You should now separate the neem seeds from their shells.
- Pound them gently and husk neem peel, use a fan and pour them into a bowl so that you can separate it easily.
- Remove all damaged seeds from it because it may spoil the quality of neem oil
- Crush the seeds gently. The powder need not be fine because coarse powder would be good to squeeze oil.
- Mix the coarse neem seed powder and water in a bowl in the ratio of 10:1, squeeze the mixture again and again – or use a good strainer.
- With this method, about 100 ml oil can be produced from 1 kg of neem seeds.
- Store the oil in an air tight bottle.
How to apply the oil
- Mix neem oil with little coconut oil and olive oil and apply it on the scalp and hair.
- Wear a shower cap and leave it on for 30 minutes for oil to act on the lice and nits.
- Gently comb hair with a lice remover comb.
- Wash hair with a mild shampoo.
Note: The only negative aspect of neem oil is probably its strong smell which kids may not like. You could add a few drops of lavender oil to reduce the intensity of the smell.
You could also do a regular treatment to keep lice at bay. After mixing neem oil and lavender, gently massage on the scalp and sleep with it all night. This gradually works and also protects from further infestation. Be patient and continue the treatment for a permanent cure.
- Add 1 to 5 ml of pure organic neem oil to 100 ml of your shampoo.
- Adjust the ratio of mixing oil and shampoo according to the intended use.
- Apply it on scalp and wash the hair as usual; repeat twice in a week and slowly you can eradicate lice.
In January 2007 Egyptian researchers published the very promising results of a small clinical trial of a head lice remedy:
Sixty children, all heavily infested with head lice, were treated with neem shampoo. The study showed that if hair is washed with 20 – 30 ml of neem shampoo, and the shampoo is left in the hair for at least 10 minutes, then neem shampoo is highly effective against all stages of head lice.
The head lice shampoo used in the trial contained neem seed extract. If a neem shampoo is to be effective against head lice it should contain neem seed oil or neem seed extract at a fairly high concentration.
There are number of medicines and hair sprays are available in the market to treat head lice. However, using natural home remedies are highly effective than any other medicines primarily because these do not have any side effects and are also good for overall health.
Neem is not ideal for pregnant women. Never use neem to treat children who are suffering from fever. Neem oil is only for topical use and you should not consume it internally.