Lice, a word to strike dread in the heart of any parent. As a mother to four children, I have had my share of lice alerts from school, and creepy crawlies on my children’s heads. These days though, the discovery of lice only elicits a sigh over the extra work involved, not panic over how we will get rid of them. I am calm about it, because I have found the cheapest, safest, and most effective treatment and it’s made from ingredients that every household has on hand. Before I get to the recipe lets talk about…
Why Traditional Treatments Don’t Work
Pesticides have been the treatment of choice for lice for almost a century. At first, health concerns aside, they worked great. Slather a pesticide laden shampoo on your kids head, wait the allotted time, and presto change-o no lice. That all changed due to the pesky process called evolution. See, lice have a lifespan of just 30 days. That means that in a hundred years there have been well over 800 generations of lice. That is plenty of time to evolve quite a bit. Evolve they have, to a point where the vast majority now react to pesticides as if you were giving them a spa treatment. It simple does not kill them.
What Does Work?
There’s something that every living thing needs to survive, water. Lice, like the rest of us will die if the water is sucked out of them. Hmm…if only there was a plentiful non-toxic desiccant (aka water remover). Hold the presses! There does happen to be a safe, plentiful, and cheap desiccant! Salt! If you don’t believe the desiccating power of salt, slice up some cucumbers, or other water containing fruit or vegetable, and sprinkle a layer of salt over it. Leave it for a half hour, and when you come back you will see a bunch of water that has drained from the fruit or vegetable.
Salt has the same effect on the head louse and its eggs/nits as it does on produce. It will suck the water right out of it, causing it to die. It is 100% effective as long as you get the louse saturated with the salt solution. It is also 100% safe to use on even the youngest of children. So here’s the recipe and procedure to make sure the salt gets up close and personal with the head lice.
Salt Lice Treatment
First, gather your supplies. You will need:
- table salt
- a microwave safe measuring cup
- lice comb
Next, make your salt solution. You will need to mix the shampoo and salt in a 5:1 ratio. So, if you use one cup of shampoo, you will need to add a quarter cup of salt. Measure your shampoo out first and put it in the microwave long enough to warm it. This will help the salt dissolve and the hotter you get it, the easier it will be. If you need to use the solution right away (perhaps because your child found a louse the night before but decided to wait to tell you in the morning right before school…) then just heat it to a temperature that won’t burn.
Once the shampoo is warmed, stir the salt in, and continue mixing until it is mostly dissolved. If you are mixing for a while and no more salt is dissolving, don’t worry, that means you have a saturated solution and it should be plenty salty to be deadly to lice. Let the solution cool to a comfortable temperature.
If the person to be treated is one of my kids, I prefer to treat them over the kitchen sink. If it is me who needs treatment, because my children are generous and like to share EVERYTHING, I treat myself in the shower. In the kitchen, have your child lean over the sink and saturate their DRY hair with the solution until their whole head is wet. Be sure to get it all the way down to the scalp. Remember, it is 100% effective IF it covers the lice and nits. Once saturated, drape a towel over their shoulders and tie up any long hair. Leave the solution on AT LEAST a half hour. I try to leave it on a full hour but out of necessity have rinse it out after a half hour and it was effective.
Comb for Nits
After the salt treatment I condition my child’s hair and then using a nit comb (I prefer the one below because it has no crannies for nits to get stuck in and it can be boiled between uses without melting), comb through to remove any leftover dead lice and nits. The nits should be non-viable and the lice dead, but who wants that stuff in their hair. For the next week I will nit comb a few more times to make sure nothing escaped our lice treatment.
Treat the Environment
Lice can’t survive off of a human host for more than a day or two. The easiest way to deal with anything that may have lice or nits on it, is to just bag it up for a few days. Of course, this is only possible if you have extras. If there are things you don’t have extras of, such as a pillow, brush, bedsheets or that favorite stuffy, you will need to treat them with heat. Anything that can go in the dryer should be put in there on high heat for 30 minutes. Other things can be boiled or covered in rubbing alcohol. Things that can’t be heated, like couches, and rugs, should be vacuumed thoroughly.
Knowledge is power…
…or at least gives you the ability to not run screaming from your house when you find out your child has lice. You can’t prevent your kids getting lice but at least now you know the easiest, most effective, cheap, and safe way to get rid of them. May your head never be itchy again.