Lice are small blood-sucking insects which cause the scalp to become itchy and uncomfortable; they are a common and recurrent problem among schoolchildren. Most establishments suffer from outbreaks from time to time since lice can pass very quickly from one head of hair to the next irrespective of hair type. The lice also lay tiny greyish-white eggs (nits) which attach themselves firmly to the hair, usually near to the scalp.
Both lice and eggs are quite hard to see and can be difficult to remove. Lavender oil kills lice, but not their eggs, so it must be used regularly until all the eggs have either hatched or been removed. Although the tea tree remedy requires more persistence than commercial chemical treatments, it actually improves the quality of the hair rather than damaging it.
At the start of an outbreak use a 2-3 per cent lavender oil shampoo on a daily basis to prevent contamination (see instructions page).
Another tip for lice prevention is eating a garlic pearl once a day.
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If lice or eggs are found on the hair, make up an alcohol-based scalp rub by adding 5 ml of lavender to 25 ml of vodka mixed with 75 ml water – leave on for at least an hour (overnight if possible), then wash out. Finally, comb the hair carefully with a fine-toothed comb. Use this preparation at the start of an infestation and repeat every 3 days until the condition has cleared up. Two or three applications will usually do the trick! (Replace the alcohol/ water mix with a vegetable oil if the skin becomes irritated).
Between treatments, wash the hair daily (if possible) with a 2-3 per cent lavender shampoo – leave on for 10 minutes before washing out. In addition add a little lavender oil to the conditioner or final rinse water.
To prevent reinfection, wash all combs and brushes in water to which a few drops of lavender oil have been added.
Other measures: tea tree oil is also effective against lice when used in the same way as you would lavender.